The Health Center has decided to work in conjunction with Wyoming Valley Drug and Alcohol to provide King’s students an opportunity to better their health by quitting smoking through the Smoking Cessation Program.

Sponsored by Lehigh Valley Hospital and paid for through tobacco settlement money, the program was designed to be a support system for students who wanted to make the change.

Rita Cross of the Health Center emphasized this point, as she said, “We just want to help people who truly want to quit smoking.”

The program was originally designed to be six sessions, every Wednesday beginning Feb. 1, but due to lack of interest the first meeting was cancelled.

Cross was adamant, however, that if more students came forward expressing interest accommodations would be made to help them.

The first session would have been simply to answer any questions the students had about the program itself or the process of quitting smoking.

This session would be followed by four more meetings where they focused on behavior modification using a variety of techniques, including the option for a nicotine replacement drug. The program would conclude with a review session to gauge progress.

Even if students lacked the proper insurance to pay for this aid, the program would help to cover costs.

Cross admits the difficulties of both choosing to quit smoking as well as actually quitting, but entreats students to try nonetheless.

“If there is one thing that you should not do for your health, it is smoke. As soon as you smoke your first cigarette, it begins to damage the lungs and blood vessels, and the addiction process starts,” Cross said.

Cross believes that most college students who smoke just think it is social; they have not yet met the consequences of smoking. Because of their youth, they do not see the damaging effects.

Smokers generally appear to age faster, wrinkles setting in quicker in the face area, as well as the discoloration of teeth.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smokers die an estimated 14 years earlier than nonsmokers and 25 million Americans who are alive today will die prematurely from smoking-related illnesses, including 5 million people younger than 18 years of age.

Furthermore, the CDC asserts that tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the country, greater than deaths from HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined, so programs such as this one are directly combatting this statistic.

Cross and the team leading the Smoking Cessation Program are dedicated to the cause of educating and rehabilitating student smokers who want to quit. Cross acknowledges that most often the first time anyone tries to quit may not be the time they actually do, but she urges students to persevere. She insists that determination is the most important part of quitting smoking.

The Smoking Cessation Program is a low pressure environment, acting as support for those determined to quit. Cross implores student smokers to consider trying the program.

“There’s no judgment, just help,” Cross said.