Free Support to Stop Smoking is Only a Phone Call Away
Written By: Robin Reid, Storyteller/Content Manager
Everyone can probably think of one bad habit they would like to quit and when the thought comes to mind, it quickly disappears. Perhaps there’s an inner voice that says, “It’s not really bad after all or it’s not going to hurt you” and we go on despite voiced concerns from family, friends, or even doctors.
If you’re trying to kick the cigarette habit and need support, please call 1-800-QUITNOW and talk to a professional quit coach. This toll-free quitline is open 24 hours, 7 days a week and you don’t have to leave home to get the help you need. You can also receive scheduled text messages from quit coaches, as well as tips and games to reduce your urge to smoke, by signing up for Text2Quit at www.quitnowindiana.com/quit.
Jennifer Walker, Director for Ready Set Quit Tobacco (RSQT), knows from firsthand experience how years of smoking can destroy a person’s life and negatively impact those around them. Jennifer has family members struggling with smoking-related diseases and lost a close friend to cancer.
“My cousin Scott and I grew up together. When he was 40, Scott was diagnosed with fast-growing lung cancer. He started smoking when he was 11 or 12 years old,” Jennifer said. “Scott battled cancer for two years and lost. I was with him on his last day, and he struggled for every breath he took. It was a horrific thing to witness. He left behind three children, and he couldn’t see his baby girl grow up. It was so unfair. Scott suffered a lot during his illness.”
The Community Foundation of Morgan County (CFMC) has supported the work of Ready Set Quit Tobacco since 2014 in the form of a fund. Donations allow this coalition to continue its mission of serving as a resource to connect local healthcare providers, employers, and organizations with tobacco cessation tools they can use to help their patients, employees, clients, and more.
RSQT is a coalition of individuals representing business, faith, law enforcement, nonprofit, youth, family services, and other groups. Their work focuses on four main areas: 1) Reducing youth initiation; 2) Reducing adult smoking rate (including e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco); 3) Reducing second-hand smoke exposure; and 4) Maintaining infrastructure (coalition, funding).
Although she hasn’t had to overcome an addiction to smoking, Jennifer understands from her family experience many people use cigarettes to cope with their difficulties. She said the tobacco industry targets individuals and families who have a lot of “drama and trauma” in their daily lives. “Cigarettes are a legal product and they start smoking to numb their pain. Unfortunately, many of them end up suffering long-term with smoking-related diseases because they became addicted to nicotine,” she added. “One-third of everyone who uses tobacco products dies from a smoking-related disease.”
Stories of individuals who successfully stopped smoking can be found at readytoquit.org. One of them, Lorie, started smoking when she was 14 by taking cigarettes from her dad’s pack. A year later, Lorie was addicted, and the habit continued for 20 years. Her family was concerned and persisted in their efforts to get her to quit.
“I tried to quit at least 20 times. I told myself I would quit by the time I was 30 and I missed that mark by five years,” Lorie said.
Eventually, Lorie went to her doctor and was prescribed Zyban, a prescription drug which aids in smoking cessation. It worked for Lorie as it reduced her craving to smoke and she stopped. According to Lorie, the doctor gave her a treatment plan to follow, while taking the medication, that had her writing notes as to when and why she smoked. Several weeks later, Lorie no longer wanted to smoke.
Lorie’s advice to those wanting to quit, “Have good reasons to commit to quitting and make the commitment.” She said it’s important to see how smoking is affecting you and those around you, such as family and friends. You may lose connections with people because they don’t want to be exposed to secondhand smoke.
“After you have beaten the addiction, you’ll need to have something else to do with your hands and mouth. Take up chewing gum, exercise or crocheting, but find a way to keep busy,” she added.
According to the RSQT website, secondhand smoke is a cancer-causing agent (defined by the United States Environmental Agency). It contains over 7,000 chemicals including 250 toxins and 50 other components that cause cancer. In the U.S., more than 50,000 people die (over 1,000 Hoosiers) from secondhand smoke exposure every year. Walker said one way to protect yourself from this exposure is to not allow people to smoke in your home or car.
RSQT works with local schools, businesses, organizations, housing and more to educate and promote smoke-free environments. Walker said school campuses in Morgan County are all smoke-free while Ken Mar Apartments adopted a smoke-free policy over a year ago.
“We need more workplaces supporting a smoke-free environment. Policy is very powerful because it drives behavior. It’s not always a popular thing, but those are teachable moments as I educate people about the harm from secondhand smoke,” Walker said.
Last year, RSQT launched its Smoke-Free Pregnancies Project and partnered with local healthcare and family service agencies to educate and help expectant moms and families quit smoking. A variety of resources, such as the Tobacco Quitline and smoking cessation classes, are available to those in need.
By calling the Tobacco Quitline, you can also receive scheduled text messages from quit coaches, as well as tips and games to reduce your urge to smoke, by signing up for Text2Quit at www.quitnowindiana.com/quit.
Jennifer’s cousin, Jerry, didn’t start smoking until he was in the military. He smoked for 15 years and right before he quit, Jerry developed throat cancer. He underwent many surgeries and chemotherapy treatments. Thankfully, he survived and since that time, Jerry has participated in Relay for Life Walks to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Other success stories can be found on the RSQT website at readytoquit.org.