It would be great if good intentions meant automatic success but let’s get real. It takes a lot of planning and cooperation to get any program off the ground, let alone make it successful. Once you start talking about tobacco and prevention, you will start to hear from students who want to quit – so you need to be prepared!
Also consider hosting a BACCHUS training on comprehensive cessation programs. This is a great way to get professional staff, administrators, and peer educators working as a team on providing the best cessation resources for those that want to quit. Click here to read more about it.
Here’s a quick check-in for you as you put together your campus program, the “Top 10” of Campus Tobacco Control (in other words, things we’ve learned from other campuses):
1) What’s happening now?
- Take a good hard look at what services, if any, are already in place on campus and in the community. Learn who provides them, how (or if) people know about them, and how they are used.
- As you look at these programs, find out if there are any documented signs of success. These can help you find out what is working and what could be made more effective.
- If money is a factor, see if there is a way to convince administrators to lend a hand. Point out that reduced tobacco use improves the health of students and minimizes time missed from class due to smoking-related illnesses.
2) Proceed with empathy.
- Find out how people are treated when they use cessation services or are asked about use of tobacco at the health center, for example. Smokers need to be treated with respect and in a positive way, which, unfortunately, isn’t always the case. Everyone who works with smokers must have an inherent respect for them, understand their expectations and possess the skills needed to prevent and respond to relapse. Checking the attitude of the current program and the people working it can let you know how welcoming and easy it is for people to use the program.
- Also, work on expanding your own empathy for tobacco users. The quit process can be incredibly daunting. Try putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and really explore the challenges involved in quitting.
- Make the quit experience as user-friendly as possible. Are your materials easy to understand and obtain? Are your messages considerate to all kinds of students? Is it simple and quick for someone to schedule an appointment to talk to someone about quitting? Look for all the ways you can simplify the process, making it easier for someone to obtain cessation help.
3) Use the Stages of Change Model.
- The Stages of Change Model is based on research that shows that behavior changes related to smoking occur over a continuum. In other words, not all students are at the same point in the “getting ready to quit” scenario. While some are just thinking about it, others are ready to do it tomorrow.
- Evaluate the current program to see if all stages of the model are addressed (Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, Maintenance). Your resources will be more effectively used when the program is designed to reach the right people at the right time.
4) Get health and counseling centers in the loop.
- On average, smokers are sick more often than non-smokers and may even engage in other risk-taking behaviors. And that means, they might be using the student health center or counseling centers more than others.
- If the staff at these centers is properly educated with regard to smoking issues on campus, they can be a big help in helping link these students with cessation services. Better still, if the staff understands the Stages of Change model, they’ll be able to provide the right kind of motivation.
- Also find out if the staff uses the 5 As (Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, Arrange) to quickly assess a patient’s tobacco use and desire to quit. If not, this may be one idea you can work with these staffs to implement.
5) Make those meds available.
- Be sure that medications are available for those who wish to use them.
- Whoever provides the smoking cessation services at your campus should be well informed about all nicotine replacement products and other cessation medications.
- Also, see if campus insurance policies can cover these medication costs or work with student or faculty personal health insurance to try to lower the cost.
6) Evaluate cessation groups.
- Look into whether or not formal cessation groups are a good idea for your campus. Unfortunately, because cessation groups require advertising and significant staff time, they can be relatively expensive. Plus, lots of students have trouble even finding the time to fit them into their busy schedules.
- If groups aren’t working for your students, consider more one-to-one counseling or computer support services.
- Know what cessation services are available in the community as well.
7) Tap into technology.
- Computer resources are a great option for college students and save staff and student time. Plus students are computer literate and open to the idea of cyberspace resources and support; there are tons of pertinent websites out there for reference.
- Remember that e-mail and list services provide excellent opportunities for support. Consider how you can use technology to enhance your services and programs as well as ways to advertise web resources.
8) Set your sights on specific groups.
- Target groups with programs and services that are most likely to change or ones that are at higher risk. For example, certain students on campus will be more likely to want to quit – like those in health professions or students further along in the stages of change model because of future professional goals. Connecting these students with on-campus resources may be all the help they need!
- Also, remember students who are looking for internships and jobs as they graduate. Employers often prefer to higher non-smokers so soon-to-be graduates may be looking for help to quit!
- Plus, look for faculty who might welcome curriculum infusion.
9) Keep staff informed.
- Hopefully, your smoking cessation efforts will be a big hit and you’ll have tons of students who want help from the health services department on your campus. If that happens, the clinicians and staff need to be prepared to help students who are ready to kick the habit. There are many intervention techniques you can share with the staff, some that take as little as three minutes or less of the their time.
- Remember to keep staff informed about successes and new developments as they happen. They are part of the process and like to hear how things are going. They may even be willing to help improve services and participate in programs!
10) Borrow and share.
- There’s nothing wrong with borrowing colleges and universities sharing good ideas. Whatever works!
- If you have an effective program, share it with the network. Join the The BACCHUS Network™ Listserv. Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Leave the subject line blank. In the body type: Subscribe BACCHUS username (your username is the part of your e-mail address to the left of the “@” symbol).