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Stop smoking by joining SCU study


Zoe Satherley
13 May 2010
Charlie Simkin knows smoking is bad for his health and at age 22 reckons his fitness level is worse than it has ever been.

He smokes up to 30 cigarettes a day and as a student, is finding the expensive habit is burning a $100 hole in his back pocket every week – putting him under both financial and health stress.

With cigarettes now costing around $15 a packet, Charlie has just signed up for a Southern Cross University research study aimed at helping people quit their smoking habit.

Honours researcher Jamie Hetherington is looking for another 60 smokers aged between 18 and 65 to join the innovative study, which is pioneering an alternative way in which to give up smoking, without the use of any medications.

Jamie is studying for his Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science (Honours) degree within the School of Health and Human Sciences.

His study is looking at two different approaches to stopping smoking – a financial incentive approach and a health feedback approach.

Participants will be assigned to one group for the 12-week study and given every assistance to help give up their smoking habit.

All participants will have face-to-face contact with a counsellor at the start of the study and again at regular follow-up visits. During these sessions they will be given specific help and support in their endeavours to cease smoking.

The health feedback group will undergo a set of physiological tests that will measure their level of health and fitness, including undertaking a general fitness assessment, a lung function and blood pressure assessment and having the oxygen levels in their blood monitored. Results will be compared before, during and after the study.

The financial incentive group will be asked to contribute one dollar a day for every day they do not smoke.

At the end of the 12 weeks they will have the option of donating this money to charity or to a non-for-profit organisation. If, however, they relapse and begin smoking again during the study, they will forfeit their money and it will be distributed among those participants who have abstained from smoking for the full 12 weeks.

“The idea is to give participants a real awareness of the cost of their habit and show them that by quitting, they can not only help themselves, but help others as well,” Jamie said.

For Charlie Simkin, the chance to participate in the study has come at the right time. “I started smoking when I was 16 and easily influenced by peer pressure,” he said. “At school we used to sneak off to our favourite secret spots and enjoy breaking the rules by smoking.

“But what I didn’t realise back then was that the habit would be hard to break. Now I can see that I am just wasting a lot of money by smoking as well as contributing to my ill-health. I am planning a trip to Europe and the money I save by not smoking is going to pay for that trip.”

For more information about the study or to register as a participant, contact Jamie Hetherington on: 02 6620 3655 or email [email protected]. Photo: Southern Cross University researcher Jamie Hetherington does a health check on stop smoking study participant Charlie Simkin.