More help to kick the smoking habit
BY ANGELA BROWN
Staff While quitting smoking can be a difficult challenge for anyone who is addicted to the lethal weed, two new programs -- My Quit and Break It Off -- make it a little easier to kick the habit.
My Quit, available through the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, offers smokers a supportive network of people who are there to help them as they struggle through the process of breaking their addiction.
Whether individuals who smoke want to stop smoking completely or even simply reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke in a day, the My Quit program can help hrough a variety of methods, including phone and internet support or through support groups.
Participants can have a coach to call when they need to speak to someone.
There are also programs that offer nicotine replacement therapy.
Eastern Ontario Health Unit Medical Officer of Health and CEO Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said the impact on the health care system related to smoking runs into hundreds of millions of dollars in terms of hospitalization and other factors.
“We want to be able to reduce that,” he said, adding My Quit organizers hope several thousand smokers will participate in the program. He said the program is directed to help people where they live.
When people call the smokers’ helpline the support team will direct them to a number in their area.
Eastern Ontario has gone against the provincial trend in that the number of smokers here has increased while the rate has dropped in the rest of the province.
The number of smokers in the region is about six per cent higher than the provincial average -- 24.7 per cent compared to 19 per cent for the province.
In 2003, in this region, 23.9 per cent of the population used tobacco, compared to the provincial average of 22.2 per cent.
As a positive sign, for teens only, the percentage of smokers decreased to 12.5 in 2009 from 16.8 in 2003. During the same period, the Ontario percentage dopped from 13.7 to 8.9.
“We do know that 60 per cent of people who still smoke want to quit. Yet only five per cent will succeed if they do it or on their own,” said Dr. Roumeliotis. “Forty per cent have tried multiple times, so we are trying to capitalize on that 60 per cent that want to stop smoking.”
Because smoking is an addiction it's not easy to break the habit. As a result, nicotine replacement therapy or medications are not always effective alone without a supportive network.
“It's very difficult to overcome the addiction; it's an addiction of the brain,” said Dr. Roumeliotis.
“We did this based on what smokers who stopped wanted. They said we don't want somebody to judge us. We want somebody to help us.” He said even if some individuals just want to decrease the amount of cigarettes they smoke, that in itself can be a sufficient goal.
“We're not saying, you’ve got to quit. Whatever your goal is, we will work with you,” he adds.
For more information on the My Quit program, visit MyQuit.ca, or call: 1-877- 376-1701.
Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MP Guy Lauzon said a similar program is available through Canadian Cancer Society and Health Canada.
With Break It Off, people can connect online when they are looking for support. There is also a mobile app available.
Anyone interested can visit 866-366-3667.
Mr. Lauzon used to smoke for 20 years and has been smoke-free for over 35 years.
Pleased with the decline in the number of young smokers, the MP notes that smoking cigarettes not only is bad for one's health but it also is a very expensive habit. He estimates he saved $150,000 during the years he has been a non-smoker.
“By working together, we can keep reducing the number of young people who start smoking, and help to make smoking and related diseases things of the past, “Mr. Lauzon said.