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St. Paul campus to “kick the habit” Sept. 1

On Sept. 1, St. Catherine University's 110-acre campus in St. Paul will become tobacco free.

The initiative is the culmination of an effort initiated in 2007 by a Tobacco-Free Committee, co-chaired by Dr. Amy Kelly, director of St. Kate's Health and Wellness Center, and Susan Sexton, director of human resources. They conducted research, evaluated data and recommended a tobacco-free policy that reflects best practices in tobacco-use prevention, cessation and control for St. Catherine University students, faculty and staff.

St. Kate’s Minneapolis campus became tobacco-free in August 2008, and an April 2009 campus survey showed that more than 70 percent of the St. Kate’s community supports the decision to become tobacco-free.

St. Kate’s is not alone in its effort to ban tobacco products on its grounds — 249 other colleges and universities across the nation have also gone “tobacco-free.”

Dangers of second-hand smoke

Becoming tobacco-free is an important step for the University community for many reasons, not the least of which is the significant harm caused by tobacco use.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), “cigarette smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature death in the United States. It accounts for more than 440,000 of the more than 2.4 million annual deaths.”

The AHA also notes that even short exposures to second-hand smoke can cause significant changes to the blood and increase the odds of a heart attack.

In the Sept. 2009 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers reported about an analysis they conducted of 13 studies. Their report outlined changes in heart attack rates after smoking bans were implemented in communities in the United States, Canada and Europe.

They found that heart attack rates started to drop immediately and that rates dropped as much as 17 percent after one year and continued to drop over time, with about a 36 percent drop the three years following the smoking ban.

Commitment to healthy communities

As the second largest provider of healthcare education in the state, St. Kate’s is committed to providing a healthy living and learning environment for students, faculty and staff.

For students, the Health and Wellness Center will offer comprehensive cessation services free-of-charge that includes nicotine gum and patches.

To assist employees in kicking the habit, the University's HealthPartners Medical Plan offers phone counseling and ongoing health education.

Reports show that smokers can successfully kick the habit with a combination of counseling, lifestyle changes that meet their nicotine triggers head on and, in some cases, quit-assist medications.

According to the American Heart Association, “the more intense the behavior modification therapy, the greater the chance of success.”

Top reasons people quit smoking

  • To feel healthier
  • To be proud of myself
  • To make my partner, friends, family, kids, grand kids proud of me
  • To have more money to spend on something else

More resources

Aug. 27, 2010 by Julie Michener

See also: Healthcare