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MIT will host first Great American Smokeout Nov. 15

Thirty percent of all cancer deaths are attributable to smoking, so helping friends and family to stop will be the focus of the first ever cross-campus Great American Smokeout event at MIT on Nov. 15. In conjunction with the American Cancer Society's annual event, MIT's Community Health Working Group will provide information and quit kits in three campus locations.

The Smokeout aims to inform the MIT community about the many resources available to smokers through the Center for Health Promotion and Wellness at MIT Medical. "In conjunction with the Smokeout, we're launching brand new tobacco treatment services," says health educator Lauren Mayhew.

Any member of the MIT community can make an appointment for a quit-smoking consultation with an MIT Medical health educator trained in tobacco treatment. The health educator can support in creating a quit plan and help to develop strategies for coping with triggers and cravings. Also, matters such as sleep, fitness, nutrition and stress management can be addressed during this consultation.

"On average, it takes several attempts for someone to quit smoking," adds Mayhew. "It's important that people prepare to quit--it really is something that requires planning and preparation."

Setting a quit date, preferably at least a week in advance, and stopping completely on that date, is far more effective than quitting tobacco "cold turkey." Evidence shows that the chance of successfully quitting is also much higher with the use of behavioral counseling and FDA-approved stop-smoking medications, including nicotine patches, gum and nasal spray.

Information on these methods, along with quit kits, will be available across campus on Nov. 15. Look for tables in Lobby 10, the E25 Atrium and the Wolk Lobby in Sloan. There will also be a cold turkey sandwich giveaway, courtesy of Subway. Other resources include a seven-week quit smoking class that the Center for Health Promotion offers. The next class, which meets weekly, begins Jan. 9.

Tobacco use is the first challenge that the Community Health Working Group has tackled. According to facilitator Maryanne Kirkbride, the new group is charged with selecting "high-priority, cross-cutting health issues for systematic campuswide improvement." The group includes staff from the Center for Health Promotion and Wellness at MIT Medical, the Z Center, DAPER, Environmental Health and Safety, Facilities and Human Resources. Group membership is open; if interested, e-mail

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 14, 2007 (download PDF).

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