Most College Smokers Never Quit

(U-WIRE) BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – A new study found that each year only 3 percent of female smokers from age 16 to 24, succeed in quitting for more than a year. The American Legacy Foundation, parent company for the Truth anti-smoking campaign, also found that nationally, one in four female college students smoke and 65 percent of them want to quit. Around 90 percent of people begin smoking before they are 20 years old. These findings came from two surveys, the Legacy Media Tracking Survey and the National Youth Tobacco Survey. Approximately 40,000 people between ages 12 and 24 were polled randomly by phone and in schools during the 2002-2003 school year. Results are published on the American Legacy Foundation Web site. At 15, fashion major Jennie Wyss started smoking because “everyone did it, and I just started smoking.” An additional study found teen girls who diet at least once a week are twice as likely to become smokers compared to girls who don’t diet, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health reported in a press release in 2000. “Nicotine, routine and habit keep people smoking,” Barb Hoffman, nurse practitioner and health educator at the BGSU Wellness Connection said. “It’s a combination of behaviors.” Jessica Gurich, shift manager at Sterling, started smoking when she was drinking and, “it just escalated.” Gurich, 20, has been smoking since she was 18 and has never tried to quit. “I smoked before I worked here, but this job probably makes it hard to quit. When I see someone buy cigarettes, I am reminded and want to go smoke a cigarette.””I don’t understand the attraction to smoking,” William Burgette, junior, said. He tried smoking, but “didn’t enjoy it, plus obvious health factors.”No matter what the motive for smoking, there are more reasons to quit. “Women are almost as equally likely to have heart attacks as men,” Rene Ramos, certified physician’s assistant at the Bowling Green Clinic, said. Other long-term complications include colds, asthma, allergies, emphysema, forms of cancer like throat, lung and cervical cancer, infertility and an increase of aging and wrinkles. Hoffman sees a lot of people come in with colds and weakened immune systems. “For students diagnosed with venereal warts,” she said, “we strongly encourage them to quit smoking because it weakens the immune system. “We also encourage girls on birth control to quit smoking because they can have strokes. There was a student I had that ended up having a stroke because she was on the pill. The girl was 19 or 20 and smoked a pack of cigarettes a day.” Gurich has never tried to quit and would not try right now, even if it were easy. She still smokes “because it’s relaxing.” Symptoms of smoking only worsen with age. “Some come in here with oxygen tanks and I ask them if they quit smoking, and some of them have not,” Ramos said about some of his older patients. “I ask them what they do [to avoid explosion from the oxygen tanks] and they say, ‘I turn the oxygen off. I enjoy smoking and will do it until I die.’ If only they can make some lifestyle modifications and quit smoking, they can dramatically change their life.” Hoffman suggested several methods for quitting the butts for good. Some quit cold turkey or cut back slowly. Other options include over-the-counter and prescription medications like Zyban. There are gums and patches as well. “Some will try hypnosis,” Hoffman said. “For people who have tried all avenues and cannot quit, try it and it works for them. One of our staff people tried it and hasn’t smoked since.” Hypnosis aims to “block internal and external stimulus that leads to smoking,” one pamphlet in the Wellness Center read.”I really don’t think people would find it attractive other than that the media portrays it that way, so people my age just think it’s the cool thing to do,” Allison Wade, sophomore, said. Wade added that there are some things that society could change to make smoking less prevalent. “They could give more education in the school about it, because I know the only education I got was from my family because my mom’s a nurse,” Wade, 19, said. Wade also said she encourages smoking ban proposals for restaurants and bars.