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New medication helps man kick the habit
TELL CITY - Quitting is easier said than done. For 45 years, Dan Cole of Tell City smoked two packs a day - or more - and during that time, he tried to quit numerous times.
The patch, different medications and even less-conventional methods like hypnotism and acupuncture couldn't help him kick the habit.
Dan said he "thought it was cool" when he started smoking in 1962 at age 18. But as he got older, he said he got tired easier and was out of breath most of the time. His wife, Pat, said it was difficult to go places together because he would always have to plan when he could get a cigarette.
"He wanted to quit several times but couldn't," she said, adding it was his attitude which kept him trying. "The desire to quit was there."
Earlier this year, after coughing up blood and learning he had a throat infection, Dan started a new medication that helped him kick the habit. Chantix, a non-nicotine prescription drug, contains no nicotine but targets the same receptors that nicotine does, according to the drug's Web site www.chantix.com.
He explained that the program lasts for about 12 weeks. During that time, he took pills each day and for the first seven days, he could still smoke. But on the eighth day, he had to stop. He quit smoking April 27 of this year. "Using this drug was very easy," Dan said. "It was much easier than I thought it would be."
"He immediately started getting better," his wife said, adding he has more energy and doesn't "huff and puff" anymore. Dan said he has taken up exercise and joined a fitness club to keep distracted. He still gets urges but they aren't as strong anymore and he can resist them, he said, adding he also chews a lot of gum.
2008 is the Year to Quit
Lincoln Hills Development Corp. Youth Bureau Services Director Jan Sprinkle said January 2008 kicks off a county-wide Year to Quit program. Sprinkle, who is also the Perry County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation coordinator, said throughout the year the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program will promote its cessation programs as well as those of LHDC, Perry County Memorial Hospital and the Indiana Tobacco Quit Line, which can be reached at (800) QUIT-NOW.
The organizations will also talk to groups about the program, provide monthly cessation programs and help businesses and other interested parties develop smoke-free policies.
"There's so much more emphasis on quitting now than there was before," she said. "There's more education and more awareness" individually and socially. For example, everyone is much more conscious on how smoking affects nonsmokers and the dangers of that secondhand smoke.
There are two addictions to break when trying to quit smoking, she said. One is the addiction of nicotine and the other is physical habits.
"The (physical) habits are harder to break than the nicotine addiction," said Sprinkle, who is a former smoker herself. She said she started smoking in her early teens and by the time she graduated high school, she was hooked. At the most, Sprinkle said she smoked up to a pack and a half a day and after 10 years, she decided to quit at age 25.
She explained that habits and "triggers" are different for everyone. For her, she would usually get up in the morning and have a cigarette. For others it may be when they get in the car, they have to light up or when they go out with friends to a bar, they need to have a cigarette with their drink.
To help break her habits, Sprinkle would delay when she had a cigarette, waiting a few hours after she woke up before she allowed herself to have one. "It took me four or five months to quit," she said. "But it seemed after I broke my habits, it was easier to quit."
Making smokers aware of their habits, providing a support group and informing smokers about the different ways to quit are a few reasons why cessation programs are important, she said. When starting a program, leaders talk with individuals about their personal habits and triggers to make them more aware.
Even if someone backslides, she said, it's OK because not everyone can quit the first time and by continuing cessation classes, individuals keep the support system going. "Never give up," Sprinkle said. "The other people in the group may be going through the same thing."
There are still temptations everywhere, though, she warned. The big problem is the tobacco companies and their marketing strategies, she said, adding ages 18 to 24 are at the greatest risk. With fashionable packaging, flavored tobacco, spitless tobacco and even hookah lounges, smoking has become trendy. Hookah lounges are establishments where patrons share flavored tobacco from a communal hookah.
"We always have to keep awareness up," she said. "We have come a long way, yet we have to keep at it." To help extinguish the habit sooner, all three county schools have cessation programs for students who are caught with tobacco. And some companies have started to offer incentives for employees to quit. For example, Sprinkle said LHDC employees can receive up to $250 to help pay for means to quit smoking since most health insurance policies don't pay for them. About 10 employees have taken advantage of the program, she said, and half of them have successfully quit.
Smoking cessation programs offered in Perry County include the American Cancer Society's Fresh Start Program through PCMH and the American Lung Association's Freedom From Smoking. These programs are free of charge and are offered throughout the year. Sprinkle said the Freedom from Smoking program can be provided on-site to businesses with three or more employees who would like to quit.
For more information about LHDC's program and the Indiana Tobacco Quit Line, call Sprinkle at 547-3435, Ext. 236 or at jan@lhdc. org and for PCMH's program contact Caryn Weiss, program-development coordinator for the hospital, at 547-0125.