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Henry Medical Center offers stop smoking program

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

For smokers looking to kick the habit, Henry Medical Center's Fresh Start smoking cessation program may be just the help need.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), cigarette smoking is the major single cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

Smoking tobacco is responsible for nearly one in five deaths. These statistics highlight the importance of helping smokers quit, says Vicky Ayres, the community educator who teaches the program at Henry Medical Center.

Fresh Start offers participants helpful hints in the stop smoking process, and Ayres says it introduces smokers to the different methods of quitting. "Cold turkey is one of them, " she says. "The success rate is about 75 percent."

Smokers going through the program are usually already using some sort of aid such as a patch, nicotine gum or a doctor's prescription. She explains Fresh Start is designed to supplement, not replace, those aids.

Some participants are former smokers who have already quit and want to remain "smoke free". One of Fresh Start's most important aspects is making sure those individuals avoid a relapse and begin smoking again.

One way to avoid the temptation to light up again is to be aware of situations triggering the craving for a cigarette. Ayres cites those situations include times of happiness, boredom, loneliness and crisis.

Others in the group who have shared similar experiences provide encouragement to those fearful of whether they can successfully stop smoking.

"A lot of times it's having other people in the class. Just to be sharing, that helps them succeed," she says.

The next class is Jan. 6-27, and consists of a one-hour session from 5:30-6:30 p.m. each Tuesday. To register for the program, call the Henry Medical Center's Community Education Department at (678) 604-1040.