Health Department encourages people to quit smoking

Though smoking is on the decline in the U.S., the number of deaths due to tobacco-addiction still ranks in the hundreds of thousands. With a cost so high, health organizations across the country are continuing their fight against such preventable deaths.

Carter County’s Health Department will begin their Freedom from Smoking workshops starting today, March 5. This time, however, a new leader has stepped up to take charge of the program.

Emily Brooks, a health educator at the health department and organizer of Freedom from Smoking, said the program is based on a “behavior change process” as opposed to quitting outright.

“The program says 60 percent of those who participate end up quitting,” Brooks said.

The program is not new to Carter County, and many different speakers and organizers have risen to the occasion, but Brooks is new both to the program and the Health Department.

“I was recently trained in December,” she said. “I have been working here since August.”

Though she is new to the program, she said her partner Jilian Reece, director of the Carter County Drug Prevention, is a big help.

“I feel more confident with her helping,” Brooks said.

Brooks said she has never smoked, which she said could make relating to the attendees of the sessions harder, but she said her solution is to work on bringing more speakers to share their life experiences and success stories.

She said getting these experiences out to the public is important for the overall health of the county.

“The CDC says smoking is responsible for about one in five deaths in the U.S.,” she said. “They said tobacco kills roughly 443,000 people in the U.S. annually.”

These statistics, she said, facilitates the need for a strong method of getting people to quit.

The program’s method encourages a methodical approach by altering a person’s lifestyle so the urge to smoke decreases, rather than going “cold turkey” by immediately dropping smoking all at once.

“It is a step-by-step process,” Brooks said. “After one month of quitting, the health benefits improve dramatically.”

The sessions will take place over the course of a month and a half, starting on Tuesday, March 5 and ending on Tuesday, April 16. All sessions will start a 4:30 p.m. at the Carter County Library at 201 N Sycamore St, and will run between one hour and an hour and a half.

“We don’t have our ‘Quit Day’ until the fourth session,” she said. “The program understands the difficulty, and they offer resources for those who relapse later.”

The sessions do not require registration beforehand. She said anyone who wants to improve their health is welcome to come.

“People who use vaping or e-cigarettes are also welcome to join,” Brooks said.

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