#DolphinsLiveWell: “Tobacco-Free Zone”

More stories from Maria C. Randazzo

#DolphinsLiveWell: “Tobacco-Free Zone”

As you are probably aware by now, Le Moyne College went tobacco free on July 1 of this year. For some of you who do use tobacco and are returning upperclassman, this is new and may take some time getting used to. And for all of you freshmen, it’s part of Le Moyne’s culture of helping to keep you and your environment healthier!  As the Substance Abuse Specialist here at Le Moyne, I want to address this week’s column to those students who still use tobacco in any form, and to let them know that there are options and tools to help you become tobacco free.

Quitting tobacco in the short term can be the easiest part, but quitting permanently is more difficult! The reason for this is that as the addictive chemical compounds start to break down and leave your body, the physical cravings start to set in.  

Now you may have already begun experiencing the psychological cravings such as missing holding the cigarette in your hand or the action of putting that pinch of tobacco in your mouth, but these can be managed by substituting it with other behaviors such as chewing hard candy, gum, vegetables or anything crunchy or chewy!  The physical cravings can be more intense and not so easily satisfied. The trick to managing these is to make it through the most intense part of the craving without using tobacco. Did you know that the strongest part of a craving of any kind, whether it’s food or alcohol or tobacco, lasts three minutes and if you can get through those three minutes, the craving intensity lessens and you can manage it more easily?

If you noticed, at our Healthy Monday tabling this week we gave out “Smarties” candy with instructions to this effect: if you have a craving to smoke or dip, take a full three to five minutes to eat the smarties candy one by one and by the time you’re finished, you will have not only satisfied the oral craving but will have also gotten through the craving without using tobacco.  

Delay and distract are two other techniques you can use: distract  yourself with something else you enjoy for 10 minutes. This will further delay your use of tobacco. Working out, relaxation techniques, or just talking to someone for support are all examples of “delay and distract.” Sometimes it may not be easy especially if you are in an environment where other people are using tobacco. For example, if you go outside to an off-campus  location with other people who are going to smoke, you’re probably going to have strong cravings and be more likely to smoke as well. So guess what?? Don’t go with them! As long as you’re in your residence hall and on campus, it will be another barrier.   

Urges for tobacco are likely to be strongest in the situations where you smoked or chewed tobacco most often, such as parties or bars, in the car, or while watching television. Identify your trigger situations, “people, places, and things” that remind you of using tobacco and have a plan in place to avoid them entirely or get through them without using tobacco.  And try to avoid the pitfall of “Oh, I’ll just have one.” If you have been a regular tobacco user, this won’t work for very long.

Lastly, there are medications and nicotine replacement products that can help.  Stop by Health Services to contact your own doctor for more information. Remember to remind yourself of all of the benefits of not using tobacco whenever you get the urge and you will be one step closer to being tobacco free!!