Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Not On Tobacco

On April 23rd, I became a facilitator for the American Lung Association's N.O.T. Program. As an advocate for the anti-tobacco campaign, I wanted to expand my involvement with the American Lung Association. Through my platform T.E.A.C.H., I was already educating the youth on the dangers of smoking. This was my way of utilizing my platform as a prevention tool. But what about teens who had said "yes" to Big Tobacco? I wanted a way to help teens who were already smoking but wanted to quit. This workshop gave me the opportunity to educate the youth from both spectrums: those who have not started smoking and need continued guidance to stay on that smokefree path, and those who are smoking that want to quit the habit for good.

Not On Tobacco is the nation's leading smoking cessation program for teens. The American Lung Association and West Virginia University developed N.O.T. in 1997 because there were no cessation programs for teens. Also, there was a public health concern about the high prevalence of teen smoking nationwide. Research has shown that 54% of high school students say they want to quit but can't do it on their own. N.O.T. is a research-based, easy to use program that gives teens the support and motivation they need to help them quit. As a facilitator, my job is to guide teens through ten weekly sessions that will ultimately help them either quit smoking completely or reduce the amount of cigarettes they are smoking. Some of the topics discussed during the program are understanding why these teens are smoking, preparing for quit day, nicotine addiction and withdrawal, accessing and maintaining social support, and coping with stress. N.O.T. has a 21% quit rate, which has a higher success rate than any other teen cessation program. N.O.T. is proven to be the most widely used and most successful program in the United States to help teens quit smoking. The proof is in the benefits teens gain thanks to this program:
  • Teens are successful in quitting smoking completely or reducing the amount of cigarettes they are smoking dramatically.
  • Teens gain a sense of control over smoking.
  • Teens are motivated to do well in school.
  • They build a positive relationship with the other teens in the program.
  • They have improved physical fitness, managing stress better, and are eating better.
  • Teens are saving money (Cigarette packs cost over $2000 per year).

Tonight I was invited as a guest on a local television show at Time Warner Cable TV Studios to discuss my position as a facilitator for the American Lung Association's Not On Tobacco Program. The episode is a half hour long and will be aired on Staten Island and Brooklyn during the month of June. When the interview was over, one of the producers came up to me and said, "Wow! I cannot believe you knew so much about the program and you didn't have any notes!" What a great compliment! That's when you know you fully embody your platform. It becomes a part of you. My crusade in having a generation of non-smokers has been a part of my life for the past nine years. And I have no intention of stopping now.

Dr. Anthony Luizzo and Maryann Drandorff RN, Co-Hosts of the show

David Wyle, Director