Sometimes quitting isn’t such a bad thing


“Proud to have made an impact on smoking cessation in three different cities in the state.”

The University of Florida (UF) College of Pharmacy is proud to have made an impact on smoking cessation in three different cities in the state: Jacksonville, Orlando, and Gainesville. By tabling at health screenings, spreading the word through social media, and teaching patients the consequences of smoking, we have educated and led our communities in an aspect of patient care that some might not think a pharmacist would typically partake in. 

Motivation to quit

For American Pharmacists Month 2017, the students at the Jacksonville campus hosted a health fair that provided free health screenings to the low-income population. Student pharmacists taught the community that not only can quitting smoking help to lower blood pressure, improve lung function, and cut the risk for heart attack and certain cancers in half, but can also save a significant amount of money each year. People were stunned to discover that, according to the non-profit public health organization the Truth Initiative, the average pack-a-day smoker in Florida spends more than $2,193 a year on cigarettes. 

We also got our community members involved by having each person write down what their motivation was to either quit smoking or to never start smoking, and post their responses on a board in hopes that their motivations could inspire others. We had some great responses, including, “I quit smoking because I want to be able to run around with my kids,” and “Watching my grandparents suffer from lung cancer was my motivation to never pick up a cigarette.” Through this health fair, we affected members of our community by providing them with education and motivation to inspire themselves and others to quit smoking for good. 

Educating the educators

An important part of all these health screenings is making sure the students are properly trained on how to assess a patients’ willingness to quit and how to educate patients on the use of all the nicotine product options. The Orlando campus was able to do this by preparing a presentation for students on JNC 8. They spoke about the new Hypertension Algorithm, reminding students that lifestyle modifications such as smoking cessation is essential in treating the patient. Operation Heart also presented a journal club to students on campus about the role of pharmacists in preventing hypertension. 

During this event, students reviewed the link between heart problems and smoking, practiced their smoking cessations counseling skills, and analyzed aids that can help ease cravings. 

Filling the knowledge gap

Recently, student pharmacists at the Gainesville campus made an impression on students in the undergraduate community by tabling at “Sex in the Swamp,” an event created by professional health education honorariums for those majoring in health education to promote healthy behaviors among students. During this event, students maintained an open mind and tried to fill the knowledge gap of delicate topics. 

The year before, we held a table to educate students about alcohol and tobacco abuse. Most people start experimenting with alcohol and tobacco use during their adolescent and college years, so this event is key, as it provides us with the opportunity to show young adults the risk of alcohol and tobacco abuse. We also had some people approach us in order to help family and friends who were already addicted. For them, we had resources and free consultation sites that could offer assistance and support.

Advocate and motivate

There are so many different ways to motivate patients to quit, and many will already have their own reasons and motives to finally take the first step to quitting. Now is the time to advocate for patients and teach them the importance of quitting, and the consequences that come from not quitting. UF students are inspired to motivate and educate patients to quit and to help patients take the lead of their own health. Smoking cessation is one of the many opportunities pharmacists get to guide patients to make good decisions toward healthy lives.

Melody Saunders, Stacey Curl, and Vanita Harridan are third-year PharmD candidates, and Roberto Campbell and Melissa Adiala Catalano are second-year PharmD candidates, at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy, Gainesville campus.