According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 19 percent of adults ages 18 to 24 smoke cigarettes — and about 14 to 17 percent of the adult population in the state of Florida are smokers.
For years, campaigns such as Tobacco Free Florida have fought to bring those percentages down by educating the public through government-sponsored advertisement. Scare tactics might not always work, but a number of cessation aids exist to help individuals quit smoking.
Dr. Mary Schmidt-Owens, UCF’s associate director of medical health administration, who is also in charge of UCF’s smoke-free policy, said nicotine-replacement therapy with the use of smoking-cessation aids help a smoker reduce his or her nicotine intake while also changing the behavior.
Smoking-cessation aids range from patches and gums to lozenges and nasal sprays. These do contain some amount of nicotine, but help to reduce cigarette cravings. They are available both over-the-counter and with a prescription, depending on the smoker’s habits.
“[Smoking-cessation aids] help reduce feelings of withdrawal and cigarette cravings,” Schmidt-Owens said. “The use of nicotine-replacement therapy combined with structured smoking-cessation classes has shown the greatest success for quitters.”
Schmidt-Owens is involved in a new research study that is part of the UCF Health Services Smoking-Cessation Program. The study examines how the bacterium staphylococcus aureus, or staph, colonizes the noses of smokers. Students who qualify for the study have the opportunity to get paid for participating, according to a flier that outlines the project.
As electronic cigarettes have gained popularity in recent years as an alternative to tobacco, many people have labeled them as another smoking-cessation method. However, in a previous article, Schmidt-Owens said e-cigarettes are just an alternative nicotine-delivery system that maintain or restore the habit of smoking and are not proven smoking-cessation tools.
Anyssa Fernandez Smith, a senior psychology major, said her husband switched to e-cigarettes when their baby was born to reduce the effects of secondhand smoke, as well as to help lower his blood pressure.
“E-cigs aren’t much better as they are still tobacco products, but at least it eliminates second and thirdhand smoke,” Fernandez Smith said. “E-cigs only give off water vapor, rather than smoke.”
A recent research study by Public Health England, an executive agency of the United Kingdom’s Department of Health, found e-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful to a person’s health than normal cigarettes. However, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration has not yet approved of e-cigarettes as a smoking-cessation aid.
Eric Gutierrez is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @atticus_adrift or email him at EricG@CentralFloridaFuture.com.