Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ex-smoker ready for smoke-free campus in July 2011

After smoking for more than 30 years, Bobbie Young, senior human resources representative for Staff Human Resources on the Ann Arbor campus, hasn’t had a cigarette for seven months.

The announcement of the Smoke-Free Campus Initiative that will eliminate smoking on all U-M campuses by July 2011 inspired Young to think about quitting. A timely e-mail about MHealthy’s Kick the Habit tobacco treatment program spurred her to action.

 
  Bobbie Young quit smoking with help from MHealthy's Kick the Habit tobacco treatment program.

“I needed to quit for health reasons. I wanted to quit for my two sons. I got that (e-mail) in December and the program started in January so I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it. I just hopped onboard,” Young says.

Like many smokers, this wasn’t Young’s first attempt to quit smoking. She says she quit one other time and had a relapse after four years. This program gave her confidence to try again.

“I knew I could quit. It was just a matter of getting back into a group kind of situation. There’s something about being part of the group for me personally that makes it, I don’t want to say easier to quit, but more meaningful. It’s like you’ve made a commitment to others outside of yourself to try and do the best you can,” Young says.

Young is pleased with the program.

“The instructor, Neel, was wonderful,” she says. “She was a former smoker so she understood where we were at and what we were going through. (She) worked with us to write down our triggers and helped us identify methods that we could use to help us through that initial quit stage in terms of medications that were available or other kinds of quit-aids. We did some talking about physical symptoms and withdrawal, and a lot of focus on nutrition and exercise because, of course, everybody is concerned about weight gain when they quit smoking.”

Now that Young is an ex-smoker, she says, “I do feel better. I like how I smell a lot better. I have more time that’s mine — more free time — because I’m not attached to a cigarette.”

Saving money — up to $2,372 per year for a pack-a-day smoker at $6.50 per pack — is another benefit of quitting smoking.

The Kick the Habit program is a seven-week group program led by certified tobacco treatment specialists from the MHealthy Tobacco Consultation Service. Linda Thomas, manager of the service, says the Tobacco Consultation Service has a 12-month successful quit rate that is seven times the national average.

MHealthy Tobacco Consultation Service also offers individual counseling. Both the individual and group programs are free for U-M employees and are part of the MHealthy Tobacco Independence Program (MTIP).

MTIP offers free counseling focused on ending tobacco addiction. Benefits-eligible faculty and staff that complete a questionnaire and a qualifying tobacco treatment program will receive a $100 before-tax incentive.

Enrolled spouses and Other Qualified Adult dependents of benefits-eligible employees also qualify, and the employee will receive an additional $100 incentive (up to $200 before taxes) when two people complete the program. For more information about TCS programs, or MTIP, go to mhealthy.umich.edu/programs/tobacco.