Stop-smoking programs are here to help resolutionsAs many as 50 percent of all smokers are trying to kick the habit at any given time, but there’s no time more popular to give up cigarettes than New Year’s.
By: Tom Olsen, Duluth Budgeteer News
As many as 50 percent of all smokers are trying to kick the habit at any given time, but there’s no time more popular to give up cigarettes than New Year’s.
That’s according to Jill Doberstein, American Lung Association in Minnesota’s Duluth-based program manager for tobacco control, one of several services available for Duluthians who are trying to quit.
“Quitting smoking and losing weight are the two big resolutions,” Doberstein said. “With so many people trying to quit, it’s a great time to encourage them.”
The Lung Association offers a free online program called Freedom from Smoking, which provides smokers with self-paced learning modules on the path to quitting. The Lung Association also trains facilitators, mostly from workplaces, who can then host onsite programs with coworkers or friends and family.
“Quitting smoking is the single most important step smokers can take to improve their health, but they do not have to go through it alone,” said Pat McKone, the director of mission programs at the American Lung Association in Duluth. “Developing a support system and taking advantage of the American Lung Association’s proven tools and resources greatly enhances their likelihood of quitting for good.”
However, most of the Lung Association’s work in Duluth focuses on policy matters. The association has been supportive of laws prohibiting smoking in restaurants and bars, college campuses, and public housing and rental properties.
“Studies that have been done show that when anti-smoking policies pass, more people quit,” Doberstein said. “When the law took effect in bars and restaurants, we saw fewer smokers. The more we do, the more we’ll see people quitting.”
But the Lung Association stresses that quitting smoking isn’t something that can be done alone. Smokers should turn friends, family or coworkers for help.
The association suggests picking a day to quit, and planning ahead. Smokers should get rid of ash trays and lighters, avoid alcohol and coffee, exercise daily and choose rewards for themselves.
Doberstein suggests that smokers should contact their insurance companies when they’re ready to quit. Most insurance plans cover the costs of nicotine gums, lozenges and patches.
QUITPLAN Services, a Minnesota-based organization funded by the Minnesota tobacco settlement, offers free coaching and products to those without insurance.
A new feature offered by QUITPLAN allows participants to receive daily motivational text messages, which the organization says doubles the chance of success.
“That’s a beneficial tool. It provides reminders that you can do this,” Doberstein said. “And one of the biggest populations of smokers is the younger, college-age group, so text messages are very helpful.”
QUITPLAN is available by phone at 1-888-354-PLAN or online at www.quitplan.com.
The nonprofit organization, founded in 2001, used to offer face-to-face consultations at Essentia Health in Duluth and other locations around the state, but that service was recently discontinued.
However, the hospital continues to offer its own tobacco-free services, retaining the staff and programs previously offered by QUITPLAN. Counselors work with smokers to create personalized plans for quitting, and recommend over-the-counter products to help.
The Lung Association estimates that smokers can save upwards of $2,000 a year just by cutting the cost of cigarettes, in addition to future health care savings.
To contact the American Lung Association for information on quitting smoking, call 1-800-LUNG-USA or visit www.lung.org.