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Halting Student Tobacco Use Focus Of Class

POSTED April 3, 2013 1:39 p.m.

A class focusing on raising awareness and to motivate teens to stop using tobacco or join a voluntary cessation program was part of a pre-cessation class held recently at Oakdale High School.

The pre-cessation class at OHS is for students who have been suspended for being caught on campus with tobacco, and also for students who refer themselves, said OHS Vice Principal Diana Crofts.

“It’s educational so they understand what they’re doing to themselves,” explained Linda Dodge, OHS Protecting Health And Slamming Tobacco (PHAST) club advisor.

The recent class consisted of a handful of students who were caught with tobacco and sent to the class as part of their discipline, which educates them about the dangers of tobacco use, gets them to understand their pattern of use, and hopefully leads them to join a voluntary cessation class, according to Charmaine Monte, Prevention Programs Coordinator for Stanislaus County Office of Education, who conducted the class. She reported that the curriculum for the class is from Community Intervention: Tobacco Education Group.

“The students in these classes, which are held on an as-needed basis – when students are caught, can be very defensive when they walk in, but as we progress through the class they realize that it is a safe, confidential environment and they start taking chances and opening up,” Monte said. “I can actually see them relax in their seats. At the end of the class we encourage them to sign up for a voluntary cessation class and provide them with quit kits.”

She explained that the quit kits are a refillable water bottle that contain literature describing tobacco withdrawal symptoms and how to deal with them. Also included are items in a baggie that help with some of those symptoms such as cinnamon flavored toothpicks, a honey stick, gum, and a stress ball. There are many other items that guide users to ease their quitting journey. “High school students believe themselves to be impervious to harm and even though some leave the class thinking they don’t need to quit smoking or using spit tobacco, we hope a seed has been planted. We hope they will realize sooner rather than later to quit using,” Monte said.

Dodge added that if a student wants to quit cigarettes or chewing tobacco, they may contact her or the vice principal’s office, or even the school nurse to get the resources. Oral screenings for pre-cancerous lesions are also available to students through the school nurse.

The voluntary cessation classes are held at OHS. Monte said that they are 45-minute classes held either after school or during lunch for eight sessions, usually spread out over a few weeks.

“The students will actually choose a quit date during our meetings, track their progress and deal with relapse, if it occurs, all while attending the class,” Monte said, adding that these classes also use curriculum from Community Intervention: Tobacco Awareness Program.

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