The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) announced the launch of a student-run “Youth Quitline” service from the School of Nursing (SN), and a kick-off ceremony was held recently. The service provides free telephone counselling for young people who want to quit smoking, while nursing students are also given clinical placement opportunities to serve the youth under the pandemic, where they can learn to work in a community setting to benefit people in need.
The “Youth Quitline” is funded by the Tobacco and Alcohol Control Office of the Department of Health. Trained nursing students from PolyU are responsible for providing essential information to young people aged 25 or below, educating them about the health hazards and misconceptions associated with smoking (including emerging tobacco products), as well as offering assessments of nicotine dependence, formulating smoking cessation plans, suggesting various methods to control smoking addiction and providing free auricular cessation services, so as to help young people develop good lifestyle habits. Referrals can also be made for other appropriate smoking cessation services when needed.
“Currently, training on smoking cessation counselling is not covered in most undergraduate nursing curricula. In view of this, PolyU’s School of Nursing decided to train students in smoking cessation counselling skills and help them put their learning into practice. They will thus not only be equipped with professional knowledge, but also with essential hands-on experience,” said Professor David Shum, Yeung Tsang Wing Yee and Tsang Wing Hing Professor in Neuropsychology, Chair Professor of Neuropsychology and Dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences of PolyU. He added that due to the pandemic situation, many clinical placements originally planned at various hospitals have been suspended. With the launch of the “Youth Quitline”, the School of Nursing will provide training to its Year 3 students to serve as peer counsellors, preparing them to offer smoking cessation counselling and health education to the public in their future capacity as professional nurses.
The “Youth Quitline” has successfully served over 70 young smokers since its launch. Professor Alex Molasiotis, Angel S.P. Chan Lau Professor in Health and Longevity, Chair Professor of Nursing and Head of the School of Nursing, said, “By February next year, PolyU’s School of Nursing is expected to have trained nearly 300 nursing students who are able to provide smoking cessation counselling. This will ensure sufficient manpower in expanding clinical and community-based services to quit smoking and hence better promote the benefits of quitting smoking to the general public.”
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