Is 'quit smoking' your New Year's resolution? There's lots of help
Published: Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 5:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 5:50 p.m.
Quitting smoking often tops smokers’ list of New Year’s resolutions. The challenge is holding them to it, and the Florida Department of Health has a free program to help.
Tobacco Free Florida resources
-For the Florida Quitline, call 1-877-U-CAN-NOW.
-To register online with a web coach: https://www.quitnow.net/florida
-Walk-ins can locate the nearest Florida Area Health Education Center (AHEC) to sign up for group classes: http://ahectobacco.com
-For general information on Tobacco Free Florida: www.tobaccofreeflorida.com
-In the U.S., nearly two out of three adult smokers want to quit smoking.
-The average smoker attempts to quit between 8 and 11 times before ultimately quitting.
-Two weeks to three months after quitting, people's circulation improves and lung function increases.
- Five years after quitting, risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder are cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker.
-Ten years after quitting, the risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking.
- Fifteen years after quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker's.
The state’s Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida provides a quitline, classes and counseling, and Web coaches to people who want to quit smoking. Nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches, gum or lozenges, are also free for two weeks for people over the age of 18.
“Right now if you wanted to quit smoking, you’ve got some pretty good options,” said Andrew Romero, a tobacco prevention specialist at the Alachua County Health Department.
In Alachua County, the smoking rate is lower than the statewide rate: 14.1 percent versus 17.1 percent. The county also has more people who have tried to quit smoking in a one-year time period, at 65.5 percent versus 60.1 percent.
According to Romero, “The university might have something to do with it.” The smoking rate at the University of Florida is 8.6 percent, and UF has smoking cessation classes for faculty, staff and students, Romero added.
According to Shannon Hughes, chief of the Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida, the program’s selling point is that it’s tailored to each smoker.
“We believe having a comprehensive quit plan that is tailored to the smoker is essential to having a successful quit. If the plan isn’t tailored to the person, it’s not going to be as good,” Hughes said, adding that smokers must overcome not just nicotine, but triggers to their smoking habit.
“(Smokers) are also habitually addicted to the act of smoking,” said Hughes. “Over time, smoking becomes part of your daily routine. It’s how you cope. You have to lay out a (cessation) plan tailored to your life.
“Each of the three quit services can double a person’s chances of success,” Hughes continued, adding that people try to quit smoking an average of eight to 11 times before being successful.
The way the quitline works is that people call in and are assigned a quit coach. They are also asked to pick a quit day. The coach works out a personalized plan with them, and then follows up four to five times in the weeks following the call, and then again several months later. With Web coaches, everything is done online. If people opt to come into one of the Florida Area Health Education Centers, they can also partake in smoking cessation classes.
The health department’s three-pronged approach is modeled on the CDC’s Best Practice Guidelines. Nationally, Florida falls below the national average for number of smokers, which is 21.2 percent of the population.
Youth can also utilize the services — they just don’t receive the free nicotine replacement therapies. The DOH has its own separate initiatives for youth, including working with youth advocacy organizations in every county to promote smoking cessation.
And the number of young smokers in Florida is declining: The 2012 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey showed that in 2012, 10.1 percent of high school students smoked, compared with 33 percent in 2010. Middle school-age children who have tried cigarettes also declined from 35.9 percent in 2010 to 3.3 percent in 2012.
“We know that our strategies are working,” said Hughes.
She added that the department generally sees a rise in the number of call-ins around New Year’s.
“We hope that it’s a momentum that carries on for many months,” Hughes said.
Contact Kristine Crane at 338-3119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.