News: Nicotine patches – free!

Published in the September 9 2010 issue of The NAIT Nugget. News

Nicotine patches – free!

Photo by Linda Hoang

Issues Editor

The Alberta government has teamed up with NAIT to introduce a tobacco-reduction program that offers free nicotine patches to students – the first for any post-secondary school in the province.

“Break Free” is NAIT’s newest therapy and support program designed to help students stop smoking through one-on-one discussions and nicotine replacement therapy – the use of various forms of nicotine delivery methods intended to replace nicotine people normally get from smoking.

“It’s the first program in Alberta to be giving away free nicotine replacement therapy like the nicotine patch and nicotine gum,” said Break Free’s tobacco reduction co-ordinator Evelyn Gorecki.

“Break free from addiction, break free from nicotine.”

Crowds of students pour out to the designated smoking sections on campus several times throughout the day. It’s a scene the provincial government – and Gorecki – hopes to see come to an end.

“Statistics show the ages of 19-24 are the highest smoking ages,” Gorecki said. “The government is trying to tailor [tobacco reduction] programs at this level. [They] set this as a priority, this age range, to target.”

“[Also] we have a big apprenticeship and trades program and we know that they are statistically a high-smoking group.”

Gorecki said that currently Olds College, Red Deer College and Mount Royal University offer similar tobacco-reduction programs but NAIT has taken it one step further with the free nicotine replacement therapy.

“We stand at a better fit because of this free program,” she said.

Students who become involved in Break Free are put on personalized “stop smoking plans” and will meet with Gorecki every few days for support and check ups.

“I get students to track what they’re doing and then figure out what their smoking triggers are and then coping strategies,” Gorecki said.

“A lot of people think they can quit smoking without a plan but it’s like weight loss. How can you lose weight without going to the grocery store and buying the appropriate food?”

While some smoking students said the program wouldn’t help them quit, many agree it’s a nice addition to NAIT.

“I think all schools should do it,” said Mike Charko, a first year carpentry student who has been smoking for 13 years.

“I want to quit smoking but I’m doing it a different way. I think this will give other students motive to quit though.”

But some students, like Sean Mason, a second-year Mechanical Engineering student who has been smoking for five years, are skeptical of how helpful Break Free will actually be.

“Some students might get addicted to the nicotine patches if they’re giving it away for free,” Mason said.

But Gorecki assures the free nicotine therapy replacement will be monitored closely.

“We’re hoping students can come in on a two- or three-day schedule,” she said. “It’s like hey, come in, pick up your next few days worth, and at least that we way we have a window to ask about follow-up and how people are doing.”

Students wishing to access Break Free can speak with Gorecki in Room O-119 located in the South Lobby.

Along with program posters, Gorecki plans on holding Break Free information booths each month, with a big boost in January to coincide with New Year’s resolutions.

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