Stop Smoking! Stay Healthy!
Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the United States and causes more deaths than HIV, alcohol, illegal drug use, car accidents, and gun related violence combined. Here at Bread for the City we take smoking cessation seriously.
Of the clients seen in Bread’s Medical Clinic in 2015, 25% were identified as smokers. The majority of our clients are considered light smokers (ie smoking less than 10 cigarettes or ½ pack per day), with half smoking less than 5 cigarettes per day. This is partly due to the high taxes on tobacco.
Though smoking fewer cigarettes is a change in the right direction, we know that light smokers carry several of the same health risks as heavy smokers. Research has shown that even adults that smoke 1-4 cigarettes per day are three times more likely to suffer from ischemic heart disease than nonsmokers.
After collecting this data and recognizing how much tobacco impacts our clients, we made the decision to make tobacco cessation a priority. We have invested more time and resources into enhancing our existing smoking cessation program – “Partners in Quitting”.
In February 2016, Bread for the City sent Dr. Monica and me (Health Resource Coordinator) to a certification course that focused on the most successful approach to tobacco cessation. Dr. Monica and I are now Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialists and are utilizing the skills and information we gained to improve Partners in Quitting.
Partners in Quitting is a 6-week program that integrates weekly group sessions, one on one motivational interviewing, periodic follow ups with primary care providers (PCP), phone check-ins, and a text message based program. We have found that integrating behavioral support has been a key factor in our ability to build relationships based on trust and open communication.
During one of our recent classes, a Partners in Quitting participant said, “If I didn’t feel so supported then I wouldn’t be coming every week.”
Here at Bread, we know that the more you invest in the patient, the more successful they will be.
One of our most exciting additions to the program is having a Client Champion. Mr. Michael Blue, a long term client, board member and graduate of Partners In Quitting has graciously agreed to become our Client Champion! This role entails contact with other clients during group sessions, sharing his personal struggles and successes with quitting tobacco, and providing clients with support and encouragement. Mr. Blue completed PIQ in 2015 and we are happy to report that he has been smoke free for 8 months! Our hope is that with time, more clients will join Mr. Blue by becoming leaders in the community, healthier individuals, and tobacco cessation champions. We are grateful to Mr. Blue for helping us in this endeavor.
To help our clients successfully complete the program, we are making an effort to alleviate any potential barriers. This includes, transportation costs/access and providing nicotine replacement therapy right here in our medical clinic.
We are excited to see how these changes will help our clients be more successful and strengthen the commitment they have made to live a healthier life. In one client’s words, “If you apply yourself then it will work. You gave me the inspirational hope that I could do it and I did. If you really want to do it, it can be done.”