Cigarettes for Lollipops

Nov 212002
Authors: Linda Lechler

Students on the CSU campus Thursday with suckers in their mouths may no longer be suckers for tobacco addiction.

Students traded cigarettes for lollipops on the Great American Smokeout, held on the Lory Student Center Plaza Thursday. The Great American Smokeout is an annual event sponsored by the American Cancer Society to highlight the dangers of smoking and challenge people to think about quitting tobacco use.

“The purpose (of the smokeout) is to bring awareness,” said Gwen Sieving, a health educator and counselor for CSU’s tobacco cessation program.

Sieving said the reality is that she does not want people to quit on that day, but to become aware of the resources available if people consider quitting or cutting back cigarette smoking.

“It’s not a ‘shame the smoker’ day,” Sieving said.

Along with information about available resources, Sieving and volunteers passed out “quit kits” for people serious about quitting. The kits included a CD-ROM about tobacco education, a personalized quit plan and decision making on quitting. The kit also included a booklet titled “It’s time to quit,” candy and a “bendy,” which is a bendable stick used to keep hands busy.

There are many resources on and off campus that are available for students, faculty and staff who want to consider a healthier lifestyle, Sieving said.

There are two main resources available on campus. The no-charge tobacco cessation program offers one-on-one counseling sessions with Sieving and other counselors. Also offered at CSU is Nicotine Replacement Therapy, or NRT, which includes the patch, inhalers and various kinds of gum, which are available for a charge at the Hartshorn Health Center pharmacy. Zyban, a prescription drug to help the cessation of tobacco use, is also available and costs $90 a month.

Sieving said she recommends people combine counseling with NRT.

“This (tobacco) addiction involves the whole person: mind, body and spirit,” Sieving said.

People need to realize that cigarettes are not their only option, she said.

For someone who is still a smoker but contemplating cutting back or quitting, Sieving said she recommends the person get as much information as possible before trying anything.

“All they have to do is call,” Sieving said.

The hardest part of the battle is just taking the first step, she said. For people who are interested in what counseling entails, Sieving said it basically starts out with data collection.

“It’s not about quitting,” Sieving said, “or about setting a quit date. It’s about accessing the right information.”

Questions to be asked during counseling include where the person is in the process, what his or her history is, why the person wants to quit now and what the person currently enjoys from cigarettes.

“Without good data, we don’t know where to begin,” Sieving said.

Off-campus resources available include Quitline and Quitnet. In TV ads,”Chuck the smoker” promotes Quitline , a free service offered over the phone. Quitnet is a Web site specifically for people in Colorado and includes confidential local support over the Internet.

The Great American Smokeout began in 1976 and is held annually on the third Thursday of November, although this is the first year CSU has had the funding to participate in the event.

Some students at CSU found the event to be helpful in their process of trying to quit tobacco use.

“I think it’s a helpful step for people who want to quit,” said Mercedes Hartman, a social studies teaching and European international studies major.

Some ex-smokers also agreed.

“I think it’s an awesome effort to help save people’s livelihood,” said Emily Hutchinson, a junior art major.

Not all students who smoked were willing to give up their cigarette for a lollipop, however.

“I think (the smokeout) is good,” said Niki Tejada, a sophomore sports medicine major. “A lot of people don’t want to give up their cigarettes because they are expensive, but it’s a cool thing because it’s one less cigarette they’ll smoke.”

Reach CSU’s tobacco cessation program at 491-1702

Reach Colorado Quitline at 1 800 639 QUIT (7848)

Reach Quitnet at

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