The Great American Smokeout: A great day to kick the habit
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. But did you know today is the American Cancer Society’s 37th Annual Great American Smokeout? Today’s the day for smokers across the nation to kick a habit that’s responsible for 87 percent of lung cancer deaths.
One valuable resource for smokers who want to quit is the “Freedom from Smoking: Smoking Cessation Program” offered at the Barnard Health and Cancer Information Center on the main campus of the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.
“Each year we offer five, six-week sessions,” says Kathy Jones, office assistant at the Barnard Health and Cancer Information Center. “The program is designed to guide participants through the entire quitting process. They don’t show up on day one tobacco free. The course teaches participants to properly plan for their quit date and identify the path to success.”
The program is offered to everyone in the community who is ready to commit to kicking the habit.
“At one time, the course cost $45 for non-employees. Now, thanks to a Washington University School of Medicine grant, we are able to offer this program to everyone at no charge,” says Jones.
“We don’t turn anyone away, but we have learned the success rate is higher when the participant is truly ready to quit,” says Dan Feng, course facilitator and medical student from the Washington University School of Medicine.
Feng also says those who make a promise to quit to a loved one or family member are more successful than those who are simply motivated by a desire to be healthier
According to the National Cancer Institute, tobacco use is the most preventable cause of disease and premature death in this country. Smoking is also responsible for most cancers of the larynx, oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus and bladder. When a smoker quits, the benefits begin 20 minutes after the last cigarette.
The Freedom from Smoking course offers the necessary tools to quit.
“It teaches how to identify triggers, how to modify behaviors, how to prepare for the quit day and ways to remain successful,” says Jones. “We are also able to provide participants with nicotine-replacement products at a fraction of the cost anywhere else.”
“Breaking the addiction and parting with cigarettes is not easy. After setting the quit date, setbacks may happen. We try to prepare participants with methods of dealing with those setbacks. They might get discouraged, but it doesn’t mean they can’t use what they’ve learned and get right back on track,” says Feng. “It may take more than one attempt to quit.”
“We encourage people to come back. It’s a program you can attend more than once. You may learn new things the second time around,” says Jones. “You might even be better prepared to identify those roadblocks and learn how to build on your successes. What’s important is, in the end, you can free yourself from the habit.”
Sessions are held Tuesday nights at the Barnard Health and Cancer Information. Enrollment is now open for the session scheduled to begin Jan. 8, 2013. For more information, call 314-362-7844.