As the new year unfolds, state health officials remind Hoosiers the best time to quit smoking is right now.
"The start of a new year is a time when many people prepare themselves for making positive changes in their life and we want to encourage anyone who is trying to quit smoking to access the free resource available to help them be successful," said Karla Sneegrass, executive director, Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation agency.
Putnam County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation offers local meetings two days per week at the Putnam County Hospital. Classes are held at 10 a.m. every Saturday and 6 p.m. every Wednesday in the first-floor classroom at the hospital.
Registration for these classes is not required, but nicotine replacement patches are available.
Participants of the four-week classes will learn behavioral changes, identify triggers and fight cravings with a quit plan.
"We have seen an improvement in the county," said Meredith Williams, program coordinator for Putnam County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation.
The biggest battle is getting women who are pregnant to quit smoking. In Putnam County, 23 percent of pregnant women continue to smoke during pregnancy. Prenatal cessation classes are currently available.
Hoosiers who want to quit now can use the Indiana Tobacco Quitline --1-800-QUIT-NOW -- available from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. Trained quit coaches are ready and available to provide free counseling and advice intended to help people treat their addiction to nicotine. Callers who register for Quitline services are also eligible to receive free nicotine replacement therapy, in the form of gum or patches.
Sneegas said, "more than 1.1 million Hoosiers smoke, yet we know from our research that 89 percent of those people want to quit. And, as we've seen from our recently-completed Quit 2 Win stop smoking contest, people in Indiana are making the pledge to live a tobacco free life."
For the second year in a row, ITPC, together with Gov. Mitch Daniels' INShape Indiana program, sponsored the Quit 2 Win stop smoking contest. In all, more than 7, 000 people pledged to quit smoking. This follows the first year of the contest in which more than 5,000 people signed up.
The grand prizewinner of $2,500, Nycole Johnson of Wabash, quit after nine years of smoking when she signed up for the contest at the Wabash fair.
"We have a baby and I wanted to quit for her," said Johnson. "Quitting smoking gives all of us a better life together, and I am happy to make that change."
Calls to Quitline average 300 per week, another indication Hoosiers are committed to making "positive health changes in their lives," Sneegas said. She credits the recent television ad, known as the "artery ad," for doubling the number of calls to Quitline during November and December.
"The artery ad really did prove to be reality TV intended to save people's lives," she explained. "Too often smokers become numb to messages about the health of effects of smoking. This stark ad showed the devastation that smoking causes to the heart. The ad obviously was a reality check for many smokers and particularly those in their 20s and 30s, of the damage that happens every time you smoke a cigarette."
Since ITPC began, adult smoking has dropped by 11 percent; high school smoking has dropped by 25 percent; and middle school smoking has dropped by 22 percent.
Tobacco use continues to be the number one preventable cause of death and disease in Indiana. Tobacco-related health care costs top more than $2 billion a year for the state. It also pays more than $430 million annually to treat tobacco-related disease among Medicaid clients.
Putnam County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation will start offering work-site cessation. Classes will be held at the workplace and open to any employee interested in "kicking the habit."
For more information on the work-site cessation classes or any of the cessation classes, contact Williams at 765-655-2679 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org