CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Experts say not smoking is one of the single best things a person can do for their health. Tobacco use is still the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States, according to the
American Heart Association.
University of North Carolina Hospitals is doing its part to help smokers kick the habit.
For some, the cigarette habit begins with a desire to fit in. For some, tables have turned.
"In recent years it's become an extremely unattractive thing to do. People don't like it," said Christopher Putney, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Putney finally decided to quit and joined a UNC Health Care smoking cessation program.
"The biggest part is setting a goal and understanding why you want to quit," said Heather Krumnacher, a adult nurse practitioner who helps smokers develop a strategy to quit.
Smoking cessation is not new for UNC Hospitals. What is new is a first-in-the-state program that targets patients during their hospital stay.
"It's been documented over the years that the most effective dollars ever spent in medicine is for smoking cessation," said Dr. David Henke of UNC's Division of Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care.
Outpatients and family members can receive help, as well.
The hospital still has designated smoking areas, but hopes to use the program as a teaching opportunity to help people to kick the habit.
"The last thing we want to do is to make smokers feel defensive or segregated," Henke said. "What we want to do is encourage them to get into programs to deal with their addiction."
Support group meetings and nicotine therapy helped Putney end his two-pack-a-day habit.
"I can exercise better and longer and I can take deep breaths," he said.
Putney is glad he dealt with the addiction before serious health problems forced him to.
For more information on UNC HealthCare's smoking cessation program call (919) 966-7933.
Student stores at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will not sell cigarettes on campus once their existing stock runs out, the stores' director said.
Smoking in campus dormitories will be banned beginning this summer. The UNC-Chapel Hill student Residence Hall Association proposed the ban after a survey showed that most dorm residents prefer smoke-free rooms.