UNE can help smokers kick the habit

Published 14 September 2009

stubbedoutAre you one of the 81 per cent of smokers who would like to quit? Perhaps you’ve tried in the past, only to take it up again in response to stress or social pressure. Well, don’t give up hope just yet — psychologists at the University of New England are offering free treatment to help smokers kick the habit for good.

The treatment is based on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy, which has been shown to help people overcome addictions including smoking.

Dr John Malouff, coordinator of the clinical psychology program at UNE, said the treatment would help smokers to identify “triggers” for lighting up and show them alternative behaviours to reaching for a cigarette.

“There are many pressures on smokers that can make it difficult for them to quit,” Dr. Malouff said.

 “Quitting smoking can create a void in the person’s life, and when they are stressed, they will often relapse. We are going to help people find strategies for dealing with those situations that will hopefully free them of the need for cigarettes permanently.”

Dr Malouff emphasised that the treatment was not about “judging” smokers for their habit, rather providing them with the means to quit smoking if they wanted to. Some of the interns who would be delivering the treatment were themselves former smokers, he noted.

Since quitting smoking added about 10 years to a person’s life expectancy, psychologists were unlikely to face a more important case in their careers, he said.

“We know that quitting smoking isn’t easy, but we also know it can be done, especially with professional assistance. If ever you’ve wanted to quit, now is the perfect opportunity.”

The smoking cessation program at the University of New England is open to all members of the community, including teenagers as well as adults. It is one of many psychological treatments offered free by the university. Anyone can access these treatments without a medical referral.

To participate in UNE’s smoking cessation program or enquire about other psychological treatments available at the University, phone (02) 6773 2545.