UC Riverside offers services to help quit smoking as UC system going tobacco free by January.
About 40 years ago, one of Bob Slater’s friends offered him a cigarette. Smoking was the “cool thing to do”, so he succumbed to “peer pressure” and smoked it. That cigarette was the first step on a pack-a-day habit that lasted four decades.
Now in 2013, Slater, the senior superintendent for building maintenance and operations at UC Riverside, is enlisting the help of his family, friends, co-workers and Mayo Clinic-trained tobacco cessation expert V.J. Sleight to help him break the habit. With the entire University of California system going smoke and tobacco free on Jan. 2, 2014, Slater is one of many UCR staff, students and faculty who are taking advantage of services offered through campus wellness programs to help them kick the habit. Estimates are that as many as 70 percent of smokers want to stop using tobacco, but are not ready to do so.
For Slater, while the campus’ pending ban provided some motivation, he made the decision to give up tobacco for himself and his family. He smoked his last cigarette on April 23.
“My wife, Karen, had wished that I would quit smoking for some time,” he said. “I finally realized that smoking negatively affects my daily health would certainly shorten my life or quality of life which would affect my children, grandchildren, loved ones and friends. I’ve only been off cigarettes for three weeks and I already feel better and can taste and smell things differently.”
“As an ex-smoker V.J. has helped me tremendously to understand the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and educated me on many little tricks to get by the initial challenges in the first two weeks,” he added.
Julie Chobdee, the UCR Wellness Program coordinator, explained that the university partnered with Sleight because it is important to support employees and students who want to stop using tobacco.
“Smoking cessation education and support can significantly improve compliance and the UC is committed to supporting all students, staff and faculty who wish to stop using tobacco products,” Chobdee said, adding that assistance is available through the Campus Health Center and The Well, in addition to the Faculty/Staff Wellness Program.