Mac’s quit coach can help your cig habit go up in smoke

The MAX Center is known for its support resources for students in math, science, writing and study skills. However, few students know of its fifth charm: Julie Lucking, Macalester’s very own (free) smoking Quit Coach.

A former smoker herself, Lucking became a Quit Coach while working at the University of Minnesota, as part of a grassroots experiment the university conducted several years ago.

In the experiment, one group of students seeking to quit were given both physical resources (e.g. nicotine patches) and counseling from coaches like Lucking, while a second control group was given only physical resources. The results ended in favor of counseling as a part of a successful quitting process. “People really do better with a coach—even ‘know-it-all’ people,” Lucking joked. She said she’s worked with (initially) begrudging recipients of her services several times, but the end result is always positive.

According to a recent survey by the Health and Wellness Center, about 12 percent of Macalester students smoke cigarettes; however, Lucking guesses the number of tobacco users at Mac is closer to 20 percent. “The surveys only account for the use of cigarettes—and even then, not everyone tells the truth. My guess is that around 12 percent smoke, and about 8 percent use other forms of tobacco like hookah, lozenges and pipes,” Lucking said.

Lucking offers services in quitting any kind of tobacco use. She emphasizes that each student is an individual case and works on making progress at their own pace. “You can never push anyone to quit smoking,” she said. “No one likes to be forced.”

Lucking says that her job is to help students by giving them the resources to make their own choices, rather than making decisions for them. “If someone asks me a question, I have the resources to answer it. At the very least, know the facts about tobacco. Just like anything else, you have to educate yourself.”

She also encourages smokers to “face the demon” and to “believe that it [life without tobacco] can be a reality.” And having helped over 40 people kick the habit, this method seems to have worked.

Unfortunately, whether due to lack of publicity or lack of interest, Lucking has had few clients at Macalester. She encourages students in any stage of the quitting process—”from wondering to ready for action”—to come by her office or email her. Regardless of contact method, Lucking assures that all information is confidential.

In addition, don’t worry about being any sort of bother or burden to Lucking. “I love it,” she says. “I absolutely love it. Just like I used to love cigarettes.”

Julie Lucking can be reached in her office in Kagin 102 or by email at [email protected]