Quit-smoking classes begin March 14 at health department

Online Staff Report

Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) will begin a new series of 90-minute classes to help people stop smoking at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 14.

The series consists of seven weekly sessions providing education, support and skills development to help people end their addiction to tobacco products.

The classes will be in Room 221 at the WCHD’s facility at 555 N. Court St., Rockford.

The program approaches the problem of smoking from two perspectives, as follows:

1. Helping people deal with their addiction to nicotine by adjusting behaviors and through the use of NRT’s (nicotine replacement therapies — gum, patches and/or lozenges). These products are helpful in responding to the cravings common to all regular smokers.

2. Assisting participants in dealing with the behavioral triggers that often endure long after the physical addiction is broken. Helping participants make a plan for quitting; identifying and responding to those triggers; learning skills to deal effectively with the emotions around quitting; and adjusting behaviors to deal with the stress of quitting and the “psychological habit” that is often more difficult to break than the physical addiction.

Larry Didier, WCHD’s Tobacco Programs coordinator, explained: “This program we offer is low-cost, based on participants’ ability to pay, and supported largely by a grant from the Illinois Department of Public Health. If a person can stay with the program for the seven weeks, and follow through on the program’s elements, chances of being able to quit are about 70 percent, based on earlier classes and their results.

The support participants receive from one another is a primary key to their success in quitting smoking,” Didier added. “We know that approximately one of every five deaths in the U.S. is the result of chronic smoking, be it from heart disease, lung cancer or emphysema, or several other smoking-caused diseases. Recently, the number of smokers in the U.S. has declined, and so, too, have the numbers of deaths. But it’s still the No. 1 cause of preventable death in our country — we must make even more progress in reducing our No. 1 killer.”

To register for the class, or to request more information, call the Tobacco Programs coordinator at (815) 720-4269. If people are unable to attend the Wednesday evening classes, they may wish to receive individual counseling from WCHD’s Tobacco Programs coordinator, or they can call Illinois’ Tobacco Quitline for individualized, confidential assistance by phone. The Quitline’s toll-free number is 1-866-QUIT-YES (1-866-784-8937).

Posted March 9, 2012

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