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Are you thinking about quitting smoking but not sure you're ready to take the plunge? Maybe today is the day. Celebrated each year as the Great American Smokeout, the third Thursday of every November provides an opportunity to join with millions of other smokers in saying "goodbye" to cigarettes.
 
The concept of the Great American Smokeout dates from the early '70s when Lynn Smith, publisher of the Monticello Times of Minnesota, announced the first observance and called it "D Day." The idea caught on in state after state until in 1977, it went nationwide under the sponsorship of the American Cancer Society. If past Smokeouts are any indication, as many as one-third of the nation's 46 million smokers could be taking the day off from smoking.
 
With help from programs like Mount Desert Island Hospital’s Wellness and Prevention Programs, one day could lead to a lifetime free of tobacco.
 
“We offer our Fresh Start for Families program to anyone interested in quitting,” explained Laurie Jones, MDI Hospital’s Wellness Specialist. The free, four-day program is based on a curriculum developed by the American Cancer Society. Fresh Start is offered to groups and individuals, and each session lasts approximately one hour. “I make every attempt to schedule the program to meet the needs of my clients,” explained Jones.
 
“The first session is an overview,” said Jones. “I let them know what will be required of them. I help them understand clearly what is involved in quitting, so they
have a realistic picture,” she added.
 
“In session one, I help them assess what kind of smoker they are, whether a habitual smoker or an addicted smoker. There actually is a difference, which affects the way they quit,” explained Jones. “We also discuss the various ways to quit, including cold turkey, postponing, tapering, and the use of nicotine replacement therapy,” she added.
 
“During the second session, we talk about how to manage the first few days of “Quit,” which is the term we use to described being tobacco-free,” said Jones. “We discuss withdrawal symptoms. Several may already have already quit,” she added.
 
“I have them identify triggers for a relapse,” explained Jones. “If you know what makes you want to smoke, and can plan to avoid those triggers, you’re much less likely to relapse,” she pointed out.
 
“We cover the Four Ds – Deep breathing, Drinking water, Doing something else, and Delaying until the urge to smoke goes away,” she explained. “All these techniques help avoid a relapse.”
 
For those who haven’t already quit, day two ends by setting a quit date. “Sometimes it’s helpful to use a significant date in your life as a quit date – such as a birthday,” added Jones.
 
“On day three, we examine how to Master Obstacles,” Jones pointed out. She explained that this is an expansion of the skills learned earlier to cope with issues that cause relapse, or otherwise make quitting difficult.
 
“We also look at the physical improvements that result from smoking,” she added. “And we look at the weight gain issue and how to avoid it.”
 
During the fourth session, entitled “Staying Quit Forever” the participants will review their plan for quitting and staying tobacco-free. “I will take their phone numbers and make sure I stay in contact with them to provide on-going support,” said Jones.
 
“Nicotine is an addictive drug, like heroin, or cocaine,” said Jones. Quitting is not easy for everyone. It’s a huge accomplishment. But the benefits far outweigh the cost.”

For information on tobacco cessation resources available through MDI Hospital’s Wellness and Prevention programs call Laurie Jones at 288-5081, extension 319

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