Smoking cessation program to aid staff


Rebeca Rodriguez

In partnership with several other organizations, the University of Texas is offering free six-week tobacco cessation classes for faculty and staff in four locations beginning in January.

Alexa Ura

The University is offering employees a class that will tackle tobacco cessation treatment in a different way.

UT employees can participate in a free six-week tobacco cessation class through the HealthPoint Work-Life Balance and Wellness Program. In partnership with Seton Healthcare’s Tobacco Education Resource Center, the program is a personalized treatment that addresses participants’ specific needs. The participants meet with program facilitators once a week during their session to determine the severity of their tobacco use and find ways to end their nicotine addiction.

Mary Delgadillo, clinical manager at the center, said the program is based on the Mayo Clinic tobacco treatment model that addresses smoking as an addiction and not a habit.

“Everyone is under the impression that tobacco use is a nasty habit instead of a severe addiction,” she said. “We combine the support system methodology and replacement therapy to maximize treatment. We create individual plans for everyone and also provide participants with a relapse prevention plan.”

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death nationwide, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 443,000 people die from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke each year, while 8.6 million individuals live with diseases caused by smoking.

Smoking has numerous health effects that directly affect the heart and increase risk for many diseases related to the respiratory system, said Henry Guevara, a nurse at the University’s Occupational Health Clinic.

“I sincerely hope the program is taken advantage of, because it’s a great resource that helps with such an addictive problem,” he said.

Seton’s Tobacco Education Resource Center is the only community-based organization in Travis County that facilitates a tobacco cessation class. The program facilitated two sessions earlier this month, and its third session began this week. A fourth session will be offered beginning Jan. 23. Despite it taking place during their lunch break, 31 individuals signed up for the four sessions. It is funded by a state grant Travis County received last year to address tobacco use in the county. Group sessions for the program range from six to 15 participants.

Claire Moore, coordinator of UT’s Work-Life Balance and Wellness Program, worked with the facilitators at Seton to set up the program at UT. Moore said participants will receive two weeks of nicotine replacement therapy, if they qualify, as well as a two-week pass to RecSports after completing the class.

Moore said participants have provided positive feedback about the program because it provides replacement therapy that resonates with participants.

“The program shows that UT cares about its employees, their health and their families,” she said. “Most smokers that want to quit need that support and appreciate any help.”