Students kick butts with REACH

A USF organization was helping students break the habit on Wednesday.

Kick Butts Day, an annual event held outside the Marshall Student Center, provided students with information on the dangers of smoking and safe ways to quit.

Names of students – some who wanted to quit smoking and others who hoped someone they know would stop – were written on a “pledge wall” to raise awareness of the number of smokers at USF.

Melissa Mesman, a junior majoring in psychology, said she became a Peer Educator with Responsible Education & Action for Campus Health (REACH), the program that hosted the event, because she felt she could have an impact on people close to her age.

“It’s more likely that the experiences they’ve gone through, (I’ve) gone through as well,” Mesman said.

REACH works with USF’s Quit Smoking Now program, funded by the Area Health Education Center, to offer smoking cessation services for students and faculty.

The seven-week program, started two years ago, offers group and individual services through the Counseling Center and individual services through Student Health Services, said clinical psychologist for the Counseling Center Dr. Abigail Saneholtz.

Students receive need-based treatments to “cope with a life without cigarettes” that range from counseling to nicotine replacement therapy, Saneholtz said.

Those going through the therapy are given small doses of nicotine to supplement their cigarette use, she said.

“I definitely think there is a need for prevention and intervention services to assist those who want to refrain from beginning to smoke cigarettes,” Saneholtz said. “Often, smoking goes hand-in-hand with alcohol use and other problems that are prevalent across college campuses.”

USF Health campus enacted a non-smoking policy in November that prohibits smoking inside, outside and within a 100-foot radius of all 19 buildings.

The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute has been a smoke-free area for more than a year.

Mesman said the Quit Smoking Now program sees about 10 to 15 students each week.

“I have seen students become successful in their smoking cessation endeavors,” Saneholtz said. “It becomes a lifestyle problem, and students don’t want to live that way.”

Students who are interested in the program can meet with a staff member from the Counseling Center during walk-in hours Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m.