Smoking isn’t something people plan on getting addicted to, but it happens. The CDC reports 30.8 million adults currently smoke cigarettes. There are different things to help people kick the habit, including the Great American Smokeout, which is happening this Thursday. Sandy Foster, the program director for CCMH’s healthy living program, said it’s a national day that started in the 70′s that encourages people to quit smoking.

“My favorite part is it gives you an opportunity to say, ‘hey, here’s a day when others are going to be trying to quit smoking too. I’m not going to be by myself – there’s others that are in this with me,’” Foster said.

She said quitting is important for their health.

“When you smoke, there’s a 1 in 3 chance that you’re going to die, and if you don’t die, there’s all those health consequences that come along with it,” Foster said. “So, for your own health, for the quality of your life, for those that you love, it’s really important to take care of yourself, and one of those things is to make sure that you don’t smoke or use tobacco.”

There are a few things that can help people quit. First, they have to find their reason.

“We all have a reason,” she said. “I was a teenage smoker, I started at a really young age and decided that I wanted to quit, and that reason was I was getting married, and I didn’t want to put a cigarette burn in my dress, and I didn’t want any pictures of me holding a cigarette, and at some point, I wanted to have kids.”

Foster’s second piece of advice is to make a plan.

“You’ve got to set a quit date, you have to make a plan, and that’s why the support that’s offered through the helpline is so important because it helps you customize that plan,” she said.

The Oklahoma tobacco helpline is 1-800-quit-now. Right now, they’re offering eight free weeks of patches, lozenges, or gum when you signup for the all-access program.

“And that the all-access program is that it again provides those free nicotine replacement therapies which have been shown when you put that in with counseling it really, really helps increase your chances of being able to quit,” Foster said.

She said it also comes with five quit coaches calls where they’ll go over the person’s plan, triggers, how they can help, and tips on how to overcome the things that come along with trying to quit. Quitting isn’t easy and can take multiple attempts, but Foster doesn’t want people to stop trying.

“Take your shot,” she said. “It takes more than one time. It can take more than one time, so don’t be afraid. It took you a while to get into the habit to start smoking, so you have to learn how to quit, so just keep after it.”

Helping people quit is something Foster is passionate about. She said as a community hospital, it’s important to make sure people have opportunities to be healthy and stay healthy. Because of their efforts, CCMH was recognized by the Oklahoma Hospital Association for referring patients to the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline.

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