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Davis, California

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Letter to the Editor: Response to Breathe Free: At What Cost?

As student assistants with Student Health and Counseling Services’ Health Education and Promotion Department, we appreciate your article for spreading awareness about the new and groundbreaking UC Davis Smoke and Tobacco Free Policy, implemented Jan. 1, 2014. Additionally, we would like to draw attention to the many resources and services offered by the University to support students during this transition period. Finally, we wish to address the editorial perspective expressed regarding the costs of promoting this new policy and supporting student tobacco cessation efforts.

Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) is now offering students free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products in conjunction with professional smoking cessation services. NRT, in the form of a one-month (four-week) supply of gum, patches or lozenges, is available at no cost to enrolled students — and students can also get an additional free two-week supply of NRT from Rite Aid Pharmacy, 655 Russell Blvd., to help fight their cravings. Students just need to show their valid UC Davis ID when picking them up. In addition, free smoking cessation support group therapy is available from Counseling and Psychological Services, and individual tobacco cessation counseling with a Mayo Clinic-certified counselor is available at SHCS for as long as needed.

Regarding the cost of this initiative and the resources dedicated to its implementation, we believe what is interesting to consider is that a single pack of cigarettes costs between $6.50 and $7, including tax. This means that a student who smokes a pack a day will spend about $50 per week or about $200 per month on tobacco products. If a student chooses to quit, and there is a need to purchase more NRT than what is available for free on and near campus, the weekly cost of NRT (about $17-25 per week) would be half or less than half the cost of smoking a pack of cigarettes every day, seven days of the week. Furthermore, while a smoker will likely continue buying cigarettes, a successful quitter will probably wean themselves off of NRT in a few months.

It’s also important to keep in mind the increased healthcare costs the smoker is likely to incur in the future if they continue to smoke. Not to mention the improved health, well-being and longevity that comes with being tobacco-free. We are proud to point out that the services provided by SHCS can support a person in quitting tobacco and improve their chances of quitting for good, as many of our formerly smoking friends have been able to do. The money our friends saved on cigarettes gave them more “breathing room” in their budgets, as well as on campus.

For more information on the range of options supporting students who wish to quit tobacco, please visit breathefree.ucdavis.edu.



Daniel Connor, Jillian Kern and Kevin Tran

Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Student Assistants

Health Education and Promotion Student Health and Counseling Services


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