Published: Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Help available to quit smoking
The Regional Tobacco Center receives grants to continue prevention programs.
By ASHLEY TATE
YOUNGSTOWN Quitting smoking may be on some people's New Year's resolution lists, but it is easier said than done.
Emily Lee, program director of the Northeast Ohio office of the American Lung Association of Ohio, said quitting smoking is hard to do, whether it's a New Year's resolution or not, and smokers may not be successful.
Smokers have difficulties quitting for many reasons because each person is different. Ideally, Lee said, when people try to quit, they have to break a behavioral habit and physiological addiction.
Nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, sprays and inhalers can be successful methods for smokers to use, Lee said, but they "work best when [smokers] join group counseling."
Kimberly Hunchuk, program coordinator of the Regional Tobacco Center through St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown, said the national average for the number of attempts before a smoker is successful at quitting is seven to 10.
"Our belief is that the more times you try, the more successful you'll be. Don't give up and [don't] be afraid of failing," Hunchuk said.
The power of nicotine, the addictive substance in cigarettes, is underestimated, Hunchuk said. She said it can be more addictive than crack cocaine and heroine.
With the recent approval by the Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation Board of Trustees for second-year funding, which totals $1.6 million, for the Humility of Mary Health Partners Tobacco Treatment Center in Youngstown and four other Ohio centers, more help is on the way, providing cessation programs and tobacco interventions to all hospital patients.
Icilda Dickerson, OTPF executive director of programs, said the board also approved a six-month extension and granted $5.6 million to 45 Ohio agencies to continue their tobacco prevention and cessation services through June.
Dickerson said none of the agencies is in Youngstown, and she has not calculated how much of the $5.6 million will go to Northeast Ohio.
Sometimes, it doesn't have to be a New Year's resolution to break the habit.
Kim Merriweather, an East Side resident of Youngstown, said she smoked for about 17 years before quitting in February 2007.
But, it wasn't a new year's resolution for her to quit because she said, "I have not kept one New Year's resolution."
Merriweather said she quit because it was time to quit and her daughter, Niya, kept warning her that she would get cancer.
"It was time to stop. You make up your mind to do it, and that's what you do," she said.
Merriweather said she smoked because she enjoyed it. "I refused to let it go."
While pregnant with each of her three children, Merriweather said she gave up the habit because she didn't like the taste.
After her pregnancies, though, Merriweather said, "I picked up smoking again like an idiot."