Making the decision to quit smoking

nastyAccording to the surgeon general, 10 years after a smoker quits, his/her risk of
dying from lung cancer is half that of a person who is still smoking. For anyone
who has tried quitting, 10 years can seem like a lifetime away, but it is important
to remember that after even just minutes of quitting your body begins to restore
itself and puts you on the path to a healthier life.

Only you can make the decision to quit smoking. Find out what is important to
you, what motivates you and then make it happen.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends smokers to set a “quit day.”
Picking a date and marking it on your calendar will give you a commitment or
goal. Here are a few suggestions that the ACS recommends to get you ready for
your “quit day”:

  • Make a plan. Is your plan to quit “cold turkey” or do you think you will need assistance from medication? Do you want to try nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine gum, patches, nasal spray, inhalers or lozenges? Keep in mind that if you are thinking about using a prescription drug, you will need to talk to your doctor about getting the medication and starting it in time for your quit day. Cessation medications are like shoes! If one doesn’t work, keep trying until you find one that meets your needs.
  • Set up a support system. There are many programs and online resources available that can be your support system. Family and friends are also good choices. Make sure to ask the people around you not to smoke or leave cigarettes around you where you can see them.
  • Get rid of the evidence. Throw away all cigarettes and ashtrays in your home and car or at work.
  • Tell everyone. Tell your friends and family, to give you a sense of accountability.
  • Prepare. Stock up on oral substitutes such as sugarless gum, carrot sticks, hard candy, cinnamon sticks or toothpicks. Also, practice saying, “No, thank you, I don’t smoke.”
  • Avoid temptation. Stay away from people and places that tempt you to smoke.
  • Get active. Try exercising, needlework, hobbies or anything else that will distract you and your hands from the urge to smoke.
  • Reward yourself. If you’re doing well, you deserve a reward. Put the money you were going to spend on tobacco and use it to go out to dinner, buy a book, see a movie or do something you enjoy.

Quitting isn’t easy, so try not to get discouraged. As Mark Twain once said, “Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it a thousand times.” Even if you slip or relapse, move forward and keep your eye on your goal.

If you are a smoker and would like to talk to someone about quitting, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

For more information on tobacco cessation, visit

About the author
Linda Hancock, Ph.D., is the director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Wellness Resource Center. She specializes in smoking cessation and leads a campus-wide social marketing campaign to reduce substance abuse.

VCU Massey researchers receive $18.1 million grant to lead a public health study on tobacco


Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D., and Robert Balster, Ph.D.

VCU Massey Cancer Center researchers have received an $18.1 million federal grant – VCU’s third largest to date – to study so-called modified risk tobacco products and other novel tobacco products, such as electronic cigarettes, and to develop an evaluation tool to help inform United States tobacco regulatory policy.

Co-principal investigators Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D., and Robert Balster, Ph.D., both members of the Cancer Prevention and Control research program at Massey and faculty of the VCU Department of Psychology’s Center for the Study of Tobacco Products in the College of Humanities and Sciences, will lead a VCU-wide initiative to study methods for evaluating modified risk tobacco products, or MRTPs. VCU is one of 14 institutions that provide vital scientific evidence to the Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science, a new program launched by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health.

The group will develop and test a multidisciplinary approach that uses engineering, clinical behavioral research and randomized control trials to study the effects of novel tobacco products. The information learned from this research will help implement the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gave the FDA the authority to regulate the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of tobacco products to protect public health.

“This historic grant signifies that Virginia Commonwealth University is a national leader in our unique commitment to human health,” said Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and VCU Health System. “It is the result of the multidisciplinary collaborative spirit that is ubiquitous at VCU and the VCU Health System, and it serves to remind us that our focus is really on people.”

“For the first time, under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the federal government, through the FDA Center for Tobacco Products, is able to bring science-based regulation to the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of tobacco products,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “The FDA is committed to a science-based approach that addresses the complex public health issues raised by tobacco product regulation.”

The multi-year grant will involve four components — examination of factors that influence MRTP nicotine and toxicant yield; comparison of short-term effects of MRTP to other products; a randomized control trial; and MRTP use and misuse on user’s attitudes, beliefs and perceived effects.

“While the focus of the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products is on novel tobacco products generally, this grant will also allow us to provide a wealth of information regarding electronic cigarettes and is designed to have the flexibility and capacity to begin new research to address issues raised in today’s rapidly evolving tobacco marketplace,” Eissenberg said.

“I am especially pleased that one of the missions of the new center is to develop training programs for a new generation of tobacco regulatory scientists,” Balster said. “Support is provided for both graduate students in behavioral and biomedical sciences as well as for post-doctoral research fellows.”

VCU’s center is part of a network of Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science that includes Yale, Ohio State, the University of North Carolina and the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. The program will be coordinated by the National Institutes of Health Tobacco Regulatory Science Program. The VCU grant that forms the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products includes two partner institutions: Penn State-Hershey, with Jonathan Foulds, Ph.D., and the American University of Beirut, with Alan Shihadeh, Sc.D.

Re-purposed from an article by Cheryle Rodriguez, University Public Affairs