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Want to QUIT? (10/31/2012)
By Emily Buss

Across the nation, more and more college campuses are rejecting unhealthy practices and becoming smoke-free and tobacco-free. Some postsecondary institutions have restricted smoking to a specific distance from building entrances, while others have completely banned smoking on school grounds.

In 2009, Winona State University joined 25 other campuses in Minnesota to become a tobacco-free campus, banning all types of tobacco products. Even with restrictions, though, students can still be found smoking on campus, a problem which is on the rise, said Quit Plan’s Senior Communications Coordinator Mike Sheldon.

“Statistics show that the overall adult participation of smokers is around 16 percent, while the adult subset of those between the ages of 18 and 24 have a higher rate, around 22 percent,” Sheldon said. “That hits in the age group of a lot of college students.”

In an attempt to shed light on the many resources available to college-aged students, Sheldon is spreading the word about Quit Plan and its proven track record of helping all Minnesotans snuff out cigarettes.

The proven method

Quit Plan is a service of ClearWay Minnesota, a free, professional counseling service that has helped more than 19,000 Minnesotans quit a habit that is responsible for the deaths of millions of people each year

Begun in 2001, Quit Plan is a unique system that uses over-the-phone counseling and interactive online tools, a self-designed program that caters to each participant’s individual needs. Whether you are ready to seek help now or just thinking about it, Quit Plan has a program that is proven to work.

“At Quit Plan, we have done a lot of research and refined our program to provide the best help in the ways people are most able to succeed,” Sheldon said “We are able to facilitate the needs of people in any phase of quitting.”

Those new to the program simply decide whether they would like to utilize the phone coaching method or the web-based program.

The phone program offers participants a personal “quit coach” who cheers you on and offers one-on-one, personal advice to guide you down the path to smoking cessation. The web program acts as a 24-hour support system that offers participants live chats with quit coaches, ongoing support communities, and free tools that are available anytime a craving strikes.

“We recognize and understand that quitting isn’t easy,” Sheldon said. “Quitting cold turkey only has a success rate of about five percent. But, if you are equipped with the tools and plan, you have a much higher success rate of quitting smoking.”

Participants enrolled in the phone counseling program who are under-insured or do not have insurance are eligible for free patches, gum, or lozenges that will assist participants to quit tobacco. The free tools, Sheldon said, are another way Quit Plan is taking the extra step to ensure success.

“Every person is given free quit smoking services through health providers, but Quit Plan is available to enhance that opportunity and provide counseling to those who do not have that opportunity,” Sheldon said. “Quit Plan is another way people can get the support they need and be reminded about the positive change they are making in their life.”

Free services are available for any person living or working in Minnesota. Quit Plan services do not expire even if a person is unable to quit on the first try. Sheldon said many people try multiple times before succeeding in quitting. Quit Plan is designed to help with all tobacco use dependencies including smokeless products.

In Minnesota alone, the tobacco industry spends more than $150 million on marketing campaigns each year, Sheldon said. Even with the passage of the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act in the seventies, which banned all television and radio commercials promoting tobacco, Sheldon said the power of the industry should not be overlooked.

“Just because we don’t see ads on billboards anymore doesn’t mean it’s not an issue anymore,” he said. “A lot of this money is going into things like point of sale targets at convenient stores. Coupons and online promotions are hooking more young buyers.”

For more information about Quit Plan, call 1-888-354-PLAN (7526) or visit the website www.quitplan.com.



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