Southeastern Idaho Public Health partners with Healthy Place Counseling and Health West to offer free tobacco-cessation programs

 By Rebecca Long Pyper

Three local agencies are combining forces to help locals overcome their tobacco addiction through a free program.

Southeastern Idaho Public Health, Healthy Place Counseling and Health West will run the Fresh Start Tobacco Cessation Program twice this spring. The first group will start April 23, and the second begins April 28. The program includes four sessions taught once a week for four consecutive weeks.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of U.S. smokers 18 and older decreased from nearly 21 percent in 2005 to 18 percent in 2013. However, “cigarette smoking remains particularly high among certain groups,” such as people who are male, young, multiracial, have less education, have a disability or are lesbian-gay-bisexual, a November 2014 CDC report notes.

“Although, there are fewer smokers today, work in the prevention and cessation arena is far from over,” said Traci Lambson, SIPH tobacco prevention and cessation coordinator. “Tobacco use is still a pressing concern with health-care professionals, and referring free tobacco-cessation services to patients gives them an opportunity to act on their readiness and desire to kick the addiction.”

While cigarette smoking may be on the decline, Lambson said electronic cigarettes are a growing concern.

“Electronic cigarettes are not one of the seven FDA-regulated tobacco-cessation devices. In fact, most people don’t quit using with electronic cigarettes. It has been found that many people end up with a dual habit,” she said. “Conventional cigarettes are used when they can be, and when they can’t be used, then electronic cigarettes are the replacement. The habit hasn’t changed — just the delivery mechanism.”

Vaping too is a new worry and is one way the tobacco industry is “getting youth addicted to nicotine at an entirely different level,” Lambson said.

The Fresh Start program is funded by the Idaho Millennium Fund. Offering it free of charge allows participants to apply money saved to something helpful to the participant, like nicotine patches, gum and lozenges if they choose to try those, Lambson said.

SIPH, Healthy Place Counseling and Health West are a natural alliance for a program like this because each agency serves clients who use tobacco. The optimal class size is eight, but the program can accommodate more participants as needed.

For more information on the program, including registration details, call 478-6316 or visit www.siphidaho.org.

Participants in the Fresh Start Tobacco Cessation Program will gain an understanding of what triggers the need to smoke, how to build confidence and motivation in anticipation of a quit date and long-term strategies for staying tobacco free.

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