You already know that smoking is the number one most preventable cause of death in the United States. You have heard the long list of diseases—from cancer to heart disease to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COOD) and many others—that are caused or worsened by smoking and tobacco. Plus, you know exactly how much money you could save if you weren’t paying for cigarettes. You have begun to think about what it might be like to quit.
One thing is certain: It is not easy. You may have tried and failed or watch family members struggle. Those who are successful take different paths. There are the lucky ones, who are able to quit abruptly and completely. Others cut back gradually. Some people need substitutions and distractions to suppress cravings, and others need special medicines. Many, many people try multiple times, extending their tobacco-free stretch each time.
No matter which approach you choose or the number of times you’ve tried to quit in the past, there are local and national resources available to help you achieve what could be the most challenging health goal of your life: finally quitting smoking.
The Vermont Blueprint for Health, 802Quits, and Vermont Quit Partners sponsor a class to help people quit smoking and tobacco. Participants meet once a week in a small group. A trained instructor leads participants through exercises that are proven to help you stick to your commitment to quit. And working together with others who are also trying to quit can help you get the support you need. The class is free and walk-ins are welcome. Visit myhealthyvt.org for class dates and times.
802quits can be accessed online at 802quits.org or by phone at 1-800-QUIT-NOW. It is a helpful resource of information about quitting. The webpage includes ways to prepare to quit, making a plan to quit, getting help, and obtaining free quit aids (like patches, gum, and lozenges) and fun, craving busting giveaways. There is special information for pregnant women trying to quit and an inspirational list of reasons to quit. Plus, when you are ready, you can enroll, declare your quit date, and access tons of free help.
Many people choose to join with others who are trying to quit during the Great American Smokeout. The Great American Smokeout is an annual event sponsored by the American Cancer Society (ACS). It is held on the third Thursday of November. People are challenged to stop smoking for at least 24 hours assuming that their decision not to smoke will last longer, hopefully forever.
The Great American Smokeout evolved from a number of smaller-scale events that took place in the 1970s. The first Great American Smokeout occurred in California on November 18, 1976. According to the California division of the ACS, nearly 1 million people stopped smoking cigarettes that day. In 1977, the event was taken nationwide.
The one thing each of these resources have in common is that they allow you to join together with others to find the support you need to quit. No matter how you choose to do it, we applaud your efforts, and we are ready to help you.
Kathy Dockum manages the Quitting Smoking class for the Vermont Blueprint for Health. You can reach her at 802-440-4098. "Health Matters" is a column meant to educate readers about their personal health, public health matters, and public policy as it affects health care.