This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Students ‘coach’ smokers to quit

    Interested in quitting?

Published: November 11, 2000

As UB transitions into a totally smoke-free campus this year, Wellness Education Services and the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences are partnering to offer smokers personal “quit coaches” to help them kick their addiction.

The free Quit Coach Program, new this year, pairs students, staff and faculty members with a third-year pharmacy student who helps them develop and implement a plan for giving up cigarettes.

Clients speak regularly with the same coach over a period of up to three months, discussing issues that range from reasons for smoking and wanting to quit to ways of approaching hurdles, such as nicotine withdrawal, stress management and smoking triggers—events, moods or problems that cause a person to reach for a cigarette. Conversations can take place over the phone or in person at a location of choice.

Sherrene Yeong, a psychology student and smoker of nine years, enrolled in the new program in October and has met with her Quit Coach twice since then. She says she is making more progress toward giving up cigarettes than she did on two other occasions when she tried to stop smoking. Yeong, who is from Malaysia, says that with friends and family far away, her coach has been a great supporter.

“She’s been really helpful,” says Yeong, who wants to quit smoking to save money and stay healthy. “She actually goes on the Internet and checks out what I could do when I’m quitting smoking and what to do to reduce the smoking craving. She gave me advice based on Internet printouts that she gave me. It was actually really cool that she actually took time to find information for me, find tips for me.”

Sharlynn Daun-Barnett, a Wellness Education Services drug prevention specialist who helped create the Quit Coach Program, says one of its distinguishing characteristics is its “personal touch.”

In a training Barnett delivers, third-year pharmacy students learn to use a method of counseling called “motivational interviewing.” Under that model, Barnett says, “You don’t tell a client what to do—you don’t use blame. You talk about what they are not happy with, what they would like to change.”

“I’m excited to see students helping students, and helping faculty and staff,” Daun-Barnett says. “I think it’s very approachable. Sometimes when I do a consultation, I wonder what happens to the people I meet—whether they’re successful. The Quit Coach Program has a more personal connection.”

Pharmacy students also benefit. The hours they spend coaching count as part of the experiential education they must complete outside the classroom to earn a degree. Many see their work as a means of improving the quality of life of fellow members of the UB community. Asked why she wanted to serve as a coach, student Megne Tantse replies, “I don’t have any personal story. The reason is I just see the need to help people quit smoking. It’s something that affects not only the person smoking, but people around them.”

A policy UB enacted this summer limits smoking to areas of parking lots more than 100 feet from buildings. Beginning in August 2010, UB will extend the prohibition to all university grounds, joining a growing list of hundreds of U.S. higher education institutions that have gone “smoke-free.”

With the new rules eliciting both an outpouring of support and grumbling among members of the campus community, offering free coaching helps fight negative perceptions of the smoke-free policy, says Peter Brody, director of experiential education for the pharmacy school.

“I am hoping our overall efforts with the Quit Coach Program demonstrate that UB wants to do more than just stop smoking on campus,” Brody explains. “We also want to do what we can to help those affected by this policy to make a life-saving decision to not smoke at all—only if they want to, of course.”

“As health professionals,” Brody adds, “we have a duty and an opportunity to use the resources that we have on campus—our students—to improve the health of members of the UB community.

The Quit Coach Program is just one of several resources for smokers at UB looking to kick their habit. Pharmacy students and Wellness Education Services employees staff a Quit Smoking Drop-In Clinic in the Student Union for three hours on Fridays. Wellness Education Services, Health Services and University Human Resources’ Wellness & Work/Life Balance unit also offer individual consultation by appointment that include instructions on applying for free nicotine patches, gum or lozenges. Smoking Cessation Life and Learning Workshops allow smokers to share experiences and craft plans for freeing themselves from cigarettes.

Reader Comments

Rosemarie Zendano RPh. says:

There will also be a clinc for the Quit Smoking Drop in Clinic In Michael Hall D-17 basementof Heath Services on South Campus Friday afternoons from 11am to 2pm

Posted by Rosemarie Zendano RPh., Supervising Pharmacist for Sub-Board I Student Health Pharmacy, 11/16/09