Kick the habit with a little help from the experts.
As of the latest FDA studies, tobacco use remains the #1 cause of preventable death in the US. And each day, roughly 1,600 youth smoke their first cigarette.
“On average, people who smoke die 10-12 years earlier than people who do not smoke,” says Amie Miller, ARNP, a certified tobacco treatment specialist with Sarasota Memorial. “And it’s not just a cancer issue and it’s not just a respiratory issue—tobacco use affects every system of your body.”
Fortunately, studies have also shown that smoking cessation programs work, which is why Sarasota Memorial regularly partners with the Gulfcoast South Area Health Education Center (GSAHEC) to host classes and support groups that help people in our community kick the tobacco habit.
And with the Great American Smokeout program this week, there’s never been a better time to quit.
What Is The Great American Smokeout?
The Great American Smokeout is a nationwide movement designed to encourage people to quit tobacco. It happens every third Thursday of November, as a rallying cry for those looking to take that step. (Kinda like a New Year’s Resolution, except it’s in November and the resolution is always the same.)
“It’s about creating enthusiasm and getting people to commit to quitting,” Miller says. “Tobacco use is an issue every day, year-round, but on this date we want to highlight the issue and the solutions.”
And so The Great American Smokeout also provides the perfect opportunity for healthcare providers to offer their help and direct people towards tobacco treatment services in their area.
What’s Happening In Sarasota?
Each year, SMH and GSAHEC team up to offer expert-led sessions on how to quit tobacco, while providing free tools to help on the journey. There are monthly sessions at both Sarasota Memorial campuses, and extra sessions each November, as part of the Great American Smokeout.
Here in Sarasota County, there are three remaining sessions this month:
- Nov. 15 | HCA Englewood Hospital – Englewood | 5:30- 7:30pm
- Nov. 22 | North Port Library – North Port | 3-5pm
- Nov. 22 | Sarasota Memorial Hospital – Sarasota | 5:30pm-7:30pm
Registration is required. Call 866-534-7909.
At these two-hour sessions, healthcare professionals and smoking cessation experts offer insights into the nature of tobacco addiction and how it takes its hold, while also giving individuals the tools they need to tackle their own specific addiction.
“One of the key things is helping people understand what drives their smoking habit,” Miller says. And by learning what these triggers are, solutions can be found to work around them or eliminate them altogether.
One common example is making a conscious effort to brush your teeth right after a meal, as opposed to going for that post-supper cigarette. Breaking that smaller habit enabling the addiction then becomes an important step in breaking down the addiction altogether. Another tactic is to make “Quit Zones,” or designated areas where smoking is no longer allowed. For those who habitually smoke in the car, getting the vehicle cleaned and detailed can not only get rid of some of that smoke smell, but provide incentive not to light up again.
In addition, sessions are a good place to learn about the various Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRTS) available, such as patches, lozenges and gum, and get started with some free samples. Attendees can also learn about FDA-approved medications proven to help some quit tobacco for good.
“The goal is a two-pronged approach to quitting tobacco,” says Miller. “And the science shows that, if you incorporate behavioral modification with the use of medication or nicotine replacement therapy, your chances of quitting successfully increase significantly.”
What If I Missed It Or Can’t Make It?
While the Great American Smokeout serves as a yearly rallying cry for those looking to quit tobacco together, these resources and classes are actually available year-round.
So if you missed this one, don’t worry! Sarasota Memorial hosts a similar program every month. Simply call 866-534-7909 and register for the next class that works for you.
Check the SMH Calendar for the date of the next session, and visit TobaccoFreeFlorida.com for more information and resources on quitting tobacco today.
Written by Sarasota Memorial copywriter Philip Lederer, MA, who crafts a variety of external communications for the healthcare system. SMH’s in-house wordsmith, Lederer earned his Master’s degree in Public Administration and Political Philosophy from Morehead State University, Ky, and is six years cigarette-free.