Students earn cash prize as incentive to quit smoking
through the NYU Health Center
By Sarah Ellis
John Eastwick, a junior at NYU's Leonard N. Stern School
of Business, has a cigarette every day with his Wheaties because
it gives him the energy to start his day. To clear his head,
he then smokes another on the way to class. Afterwards, he
unwinds from the tensions of Managerial Accounting with a
third nicotine fix while talking to friends. Then he is off
to another class, followed by another cigarette, a walk back
to his dorm accompanied by two more (it is a long walk), dinner
with his girlfriend, followed by number seven, a few more
drinks at a bar with a friends, and finally, a pre-slumber
smoke to relax him. By the end of the day, John has smoked
an entire pack.
"Sure I'd like to quit. Who wants to stand in front of
Stern in sub-zero weather puffing on a little stick?"
John says. "But nothing quite unwinds me quite as well
and clears my head. I always think about quitting but when
the cravings get too bad I can never remember the reason I
was trying to quit."
In addition to the well-known medical benefits, the loss of
that funky smell, and the reprieve from the cold, John now
has another reason to kick the habit. The NYU Health Center
and the NYU Center for Health Promotion have collectively
launched the Spring 2003 Quit and Win Challenge, which offers
students the opportunity to quit smoking and win $200 dollars,
in addition to the reward of a smoke-free lifestyle. The contest
challenges students to quit for 25 days and provides a comprehensive
support system, a Quit Kit, one-on-one sessions with a social
worker, phone calls by a Quit Coach, daily supportive e-mail
messages, and a buddy who is also using the contest to try
to quit smoking.
At the beginning and at the end of the Challenge, students
will take a "Smokerlyzer" test to determine if they
have indeed stopped smoking. If they pass, they will be entered
into a drawing for the prizes. According to the Health Center,
the Challenge has become popular among NYU students and solicits
anywhere from 100 to 200 contestants.
Although this Challenge is only held a few times a year, the
contest is part of a larger year-round program called the
Smoking Cessation Program, which is run through the NYU Office
of Social Services. The Program is a twelve-week process that
offers information, a support system, and addresses the concerns
that accompany quitting, such as cravings, stress and weight
For a $25 initiation fee, students meets with a social worker
at the University Health center for an initial assessment,
receive a Quit and Win kit, which includes all the essential
materials such as chewing gum, straws, workbooks and quitting
aids, and three follow up sessions. During the assessment
session, students fill out forms that help counselors evaluate
their smoking habits and assess their medical histories. Then
they administer a "Smokerlyzer" test to determine
the carbon monoxide content of the lungs. The students discuss
the reasons they started smoking, the triggers that cause
it, and the reasons they want to quit.
According to Michelle Lauberblat, one of the program directors
in the Social Services Office, there is no particular reason
why students continuing smoke. "It is usually a combination
of balancing life, stress, of just plain habit," says
Lauberblat. "When people are in bars or restaurants it
becomes second nature to just light up." Because "bar
culture" permeates the NYU social life, Lauberblat designs
the program around student life. She suggests spending time
in smoke-free places or substituting the cigarette for a piece
of gum or a straw. "We deal with the assessment component,
identify personal triggers, and create a system of custom
intervention," she says.
The program provides three methods to quit. The counselor
and student evaluate habits and choose the most suitable of
the three. The first is the traditional "cold turkey"
method that cuts the student off from cigarette smoking altogether
with help from one-on-one counseling sessions, Quit and Win
listserve membership and the Quit and Win workbook and kit.
The second method of quitting is Nicotine Replacement Therapy
(NRT), which allows the student to gradually reduce the amount
of nicotine that is put into the body. The options for this
method include nicotine inhalers, gum, nasal spray and the
Finally, Zyban, or Bupropion SR, is prescribed. Zyban is a
prescription medication that helps to curb nicotine cravings.
In combination with NRT, it is one of the most successful
According to Lauberblat, both the program and challenge have
been "successful." She notes that some do relapse,
but says, "That's ok." "Some people have to
try the program a few times, but once they do, they get to
a better place," she says. "It is our goal to provide
you with the best possible material to work with in order
to achieve your goals."
Lauberblat says the team programs have helped many NYU students
to quit smoking and earn extra cash while doing so. "There
has been a very positive response from a great number of people
that have quit using the program," she says, "It
helps people, along with quitting, to be able to identify
new aspects of themselves."
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