SFC begins free smoking cessation workshop

Published: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 12:02 a.m.

This week, Santa Fe College will begin a public smoking cessation workshop for people who need a boost in quitting.

SFC and the Suwannee River Area Health Education Center both host the clinic, which meets every Thursday night for six weeks. It begins this Thursday and goes through Feb. 26.

The free workshop is targeted toward students and workers in health care but is open to the public, said Paul Stephan, director for respiratory care and surgical technology at Santa Fe.

"We wanted to give those people who have entered health care the opportunity to stop smoking," he said. "It's very embarrassing for them to smell like smoke and have to tell people not to smoke."

Stephan said he also wants the program to help smokers maintain their New Year's resolutions to quit.

Its short-term goal is to help all participants stop smoking. In the future, however, Stephan hopes students from Santa Fe's Health Related Programs and the AHEC will work together in educating local middle and high school students about tobacco prevention and cessation.

The Suwannee River AHEC created the "Quit Smoking Now" program based on clinical studies. It will sponsor the clinic with funds allocated for state smoking cessation programs, said Sharon Valley, tobacco cessation specialist.

Valley will lead the meetings, which consist of a combination of methods.

"We will get people talking about what they know, what they don't know, and what they'd like to know," she said. The clinic focuses on how smoking impacts smokers' lives and how they can overcome the urge to smoke.

Participants will have individual consultations, and will also take part in group cessation classes and will have free access to nicotine replacement therapy products, such as patches and gum, based on their smoking profile.

In addition, Valley will emphasize the impact of a smoking habit on personal finances.

"Many people are ready [to quit] now because of economics," she said. She estimated that most people who smoke one pack a day will spend about $1,600 annually on cigarettes.

"We figured out in one group of about 10 that we could have started a charitable foundation worth about $1 million," she said.

For more information or to sign up for the workshop, call the Suwannee River AHEC at 866-341-2730.

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