Tuesday, February 25

Program aims to help nurses quit smoking

Nurses nationwide looking to quit smoking will soon have a
resource available to them thanks to a UCLA School of Nursing
professor and a $1.8 million grant from The Robert Wood Johnson

Professor Linda Sarna is launching the “Tobacco-Free
Nurses” program along with Stella Aguinaga Bialous, president
of Tobacco Policy International.

In addition, Dr. Mary Ellen Wewers of the College of Nursing at
Ohio State University and Dr. Erika Froelicher from the University
of California, San Francisco School of Nursing, are involved with
the campaign.

This is the first nationwide effort in the world to help nurses
quit smoking, Sarna said. 

A large number of nurses still smoke, despite a decline in the
population of nurse smokers, Aguinaga Bialous said.

Even the lowest estimates suggest that 300,000 nurses smoke, she

In order for nurses to be able to participate in tobacco
cessation and control, many of them feel that they need to help
themselves before they can help their patients, Aguinaga Bialous

“We know that nurses who smoke are less likely to offer
and provide smoking cessation interventions for patients who
smoke,” Sarna said.

Nurses and other health care professionals also often lack the
information to help patients quit smoking, she said.

“(Nurses) themselves can be ambassadors for
cessation,” Aguinaga Bialous said. 

For their patients’ sakes, nurses are more than willing to
quit the habit.

“Nurses have described to us a tremendous guilt they feel
about their smoking, like the many other smokers in the U.S.; and
they have said how difficult it is when patients and family members
see them smoking or can smell the smoke on them,” Sarna

Researchers were able to find out the health effects of smoking
on women by studying nurses who smoke, so there is an obligation to
help them, Aguinaga Bialous said.

“There has never been a major, significant, well-funded
effort to help the participants of the study,” she said.
“I find it a bit ironic.”Â 

Resources to help nurses quit smoking will be available on-line
at www.tobaccofreenurses.org and will allow nurses who work unusual
hours to access resources at any time, Sarna said. 

The Web site will also allow nurses to access QuitNet, which
will provide $100 in smoking cessation services to nurses who
choose to participate. Services include chatrooms, forums, social
support and links to pharmacological aides to help with

A toll-free number will also be available for those who are
interested in getting information about local cessation services,
Sarna said.

“For nurses who are ready to quit, we will be able to
provide these services,” she said. “For the others who
aren’t ready yet, we hope this information will help them in
making a quit attempt.”

Smoking cessation services will be available to nurses by the
beginning of next year ““ good timing, Sarna said,
considering many people vow to quit smoking as a New Year’s

For some students, the fact that nurses may smoke does not put
the care provided into question.

“I don’t think I really care what (a nurse who
smokes) does as long as she’s a good nurse,” said Max
Spielberg, second year international development studies

However, for others, nurses should set a good example for

“I don’t think (a nurse who smokes) would be setting
a good example,” said Catherine Puno, third year
psychobiology student. “Nurses are supposed to promote a
healthy lifestyle.”

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