Former smokers invited to inspire others to quit

Ex-Smokers Hall of Fame launched

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

January 31, 2012
   berkshire-exsmokers-exhibit
  Employees, faculty, students and volunteers who have quit smoking are invited to join the UMass Medical School/UMass Memorial Health Care Ex-Smokers Hall of Fame and share their success stories for an exhibit similar to the Berkshire AHEC exhibit pictured here.
   

When use of tobacco products was banned at UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Health Care in 2008, quite a few of the faculty, employees, students and volunteers who smoked at the time were motivated to quit. Many of them did just that, with support from the institutions’ joint Tobacco-Free Initiative. The sheer number of smokers who successfully quit—hundreds, in fact—inspired the newly created Central Massachusetts Tobacco-free Community Partnership to produce its first of three Ex-Smokers Hall of Fame exhibits exclusively with former smokers at UMMS and UMass Memorial.

“The purpose of this initiative is to encourage smokers to quit and champion people who have quit,” said Tina Grosowsky, project coordinator for the Central Massachusetts partnership. Led by the Department of Psychiatry, which has extensive expertise in prevention and cessation of tobacco use, the Central Massachusetts Tobacco-free Community Partnership is one of eight regional collaborations statewide that are funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program to help link local communities to state resources for tobacco intervention.

“Our grant supports efforts by local health and human service agencies, municipalities and workplaces to reduce the prevalence of smoking and second-hand smoke in 63 towns in Central Massachusetts,” said Grosowsky. “The Ex-Smokers Hall of Fame is one of many strategies with which we promote smoking cessation.”

The UMass Medical School/UMass Memorial Health Care Ex-Smokers Hall of Fame will highlight successful quitters via posters featuring their photos and personal stories of why and how they quit and how they stayed smoke free. Following the unveiling at a celebration of the fourth anniversary of the institutions’ Tobacco-Free Initiative, to be held in April at UMMS, the posters will be permanently installed at a site yet to be determined. “Participants will be invited to emphasize the importance of quitting to families as well as individuals. The benefits come quickly,” said Grosowsky. “Quitters feel better within two weeks, their relationships become more positive and second-hand smoke that may affect family members is gone.”

Hall of Fame interviews are being conducted by three Graduate School of Nursing students whose participation will fulfill the master of science in nursing program’s community service requirement. “I chose this project because smoking lies at the root of countless population health problems. I also know I will be dealing with the effects of smoking as a future acute care nurse practitioner with a sub-specialty in cardiovascular care,” said Michael Lovelace, BS, RN. “I think it is important to learn what has worked from our featured ex-smokers so those trying to quit can benefit. They have powerful stories to tell, and that just might make the difference between being a smoker and an ex-smoker.”

All it takes to gain membership in the UMass Medical School/UMass Memorial Health Care’s Ex-Smokers Hall of Fame is the willingness to share your story and to take time to be interviewed and photographed. Individuals who have quit smoking and want to inspire others to follow in their footsteps are invited to contact Grosowsky by March 1 at tina.grosowsky@umassmed.edu or 508-856-5067.

Anyone who still smokes and wants to quit is encouraged to explore the numerous resources available to them, many right in the workplace. Visit http://www.makesmokinghistory.org/ and http://umassmed.edu/eap/quit_smoking.aspx to learn more.

Related links:
Smoke-free: Three Years and Counting
Central Massachusetts Tobacco-free Community Partnership
Worcester Community Smoking Cessation Resource Guide
Tobacco Cessation Assistance
Make Smoking History