Help available to N.D. smokersThe best way to quit smoking is with a little help, according to Nancy Thoen, director of tobacco prevention and control at the Central Valley Health District. “Get support from your family,” she said. “Let everyone around you know you’re quitting so it’s easier for them to be supportive.” Along with family support some help from professionals is available as well.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The best way to quit smoking is with a little help, according to Nancy Thoen, director of tobacco prevention and control at the Central Valley Health District.
“Get support from your family,” she said. “Let everyone around you know you’re quitting so it’s easier for them to be supportive.”
Along with family support some help from professionals is available as well.
The North Dakota Tobacco Quitline and the QuitNet Internet based program offer a chance for people trying to quit smoking to get counseling from experts.
“The North Dakota Tobacco Quitline is available free to anyone in the state,” Thoen said. “If you have no insurance or are underinsured, they will provide the patches, gum or lozenges to help you quit.”
The patches, gum or lozenges are used in place of cigarettes to satisfy the body’s craving for the drug nicotine.
The first step to using Quitline is contacting the agency and going through an intake interview over the phone. Following this process the Quitline counselor will call the smoker once a week for five weeks to discuss how they are doing and if they need any sort of assistance. Quitline also mails out packets of materials the smoker and his family may find helpful.
QuitNet is an international Internet-based program offering support for people trying to quit smoking. North Dakota’s participation in it was new in 2010.
“Every time you sign on it tells you how many cigarettes you have avoided smoking since you quit,” Thoen said. “It also tells you how much money you’ve saved and how much time you’ve added to your life.”
The system allows chats with people trying to quit smoking all over the world at all times of the day or night. They also have trained counselors online constantly.
The emphasis on counseling and support by the North Dakota Department of Health in these programs is because it increases the chance of success, according to Michelle Walker, cessation program director for the North Dakota Department of Health.
“Success rates for someone quitting cold turkey is about 3 percent,” Walker said. “If you add counseling it goes up to about 20 percent and if you have counseling and medication it goes up to about 40 percent. You increase your chances by using the aids that are available.”
But Walker said there are things the person who is quitting needs to do.
“The most important thing is to have a plan,” she said. “Have something in place for what you’ll do in place of smoking. You learned how to smoke, you also have to learn how not to smoke. If you grab a cigarette every time you get into a car you have to have a substitute for that behavior.”
And you have to be persistent.
“A lot of people quit five to 10 times before they quit for good,” Walker said. “Use every time you fail as a learning process about what works for you.”
Thoen said the proper motivation for quitting is also critical.
“Everyone knows the health risks so that is often not the motivator,” she said. “Statistically the two biggest motivators are when the environment where the person lives and works goes 100 percent smoke free and when there are large increases in tobacco taxes.”
But even those motivators must strike a personal chord with the smoker.
“When you decide to quit you have to have a reason that is important to you,” Walker said. “Write them down and remember them when things get tough.”
Thoen and Walker said with the proper motivation, persistence and support smokers can become former smokers.
“There is no guideline as to how long you have to have quit before you’re an ex-smoker,” Walker said. “Some have been quit for 30 years and still have cravings but every day without tobacco is a success.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org