Mercy REACH offers smoking cessation classes


Mercy Health REACH offers a free six-week program to help people quit smoking four times a year. The next class is 10-11 a.m. Wednesdays Aug. 8-Sept. 12 at Urbana Hospital.

“During the six-week program, we do address the addiction, the psychological side of it and the physical side of it, and I talk about all the medications that are available for them to use,” said Marcy Ivory, tobacco program coordinator. “We talk about identifying triggers, developing new skills, modifying behaviors, breaking associations, and we plan for relapse prevention. We also typically will discuss nutrition, healthy eating and exercise, because I know for a lot of people there is a big fear of weight gain, and so we do address that as well in session five. If a respiratory therapist is available from our cardio-pulmonary department I will also have them come in and speak to patients about the cardio-pulmonary program, which they also may be eligible for if they have a diagnosis of anything related to the lungs or the heart.”

The class focuses on cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and vaping. Participants are given a quit-kit that includes a one-month supply of patches, gum and lozenges, as well as a straw and cup that remind them to drink plenty of fluids. Ivory recommends putting Silly Putty or hard candy in a quit-kit – anything that will help keep hands and mouths occupied – so participants are ready to quit by session four.

”When they first come in, typically they’re still smoking, and then we do establish that quit date in session four,” she said. “So leading up to session four we talk about how are we going to make some changes, what behaviors specifically are we going to modify? How are we going to get you to reduce? My goal is to get them to reduce at least by 50 percent prior to quitting, and so we focus on delaying the first cigarette in the morning by half an hour. We talk about if you currently smoke in the home or in your car, those are two things that I highly recommend you get rid of prior to quitting. On that quit date we don’t want them to jump in their car and think that they just smoked in here yesterday, and it really seems awkward, so we really try to make it a little more smoother transition into a tobacco free lifestyle.”

Benefits of quitting

Ivory also talks about the health benefits of quitting, both short-term and long-term.

“Typically, some of the things that happen right away is their sense of smell and taste come back in a matter of days,” she said. “They say it could take up to 20 years to be as healthy as a normal nonsmoker as far as the heart, because it is one of the last things that does repairing. But the benefits over time after quitting, I absolutely see an increase in lung capacity, usually up to 30 percent within the first couple months. Some will also decrease some of the medications they’re on, especially those related to diabetes, cholesterol, heart related issues, and so by quitting there’s just benefits as far as decreasing meds and breathing issues over time.”

According to Ivory, most people make the decision to quit because of health issues, or because they are watching a friend or family member suffer through health issues related to smoking. She also cites financial issues as a major factor that leads many people to quit.

Mercy REACH has offered stop-smoking classes for several years. Still, the need for such classes was identified in a recent community needs assessment because Champaign County has a slightly larger percentage of smokers than the state average of 20 percent.

Ivory said the success rate at the end of each class is about 90 percent, though it is difficult to track class members beyond the end of the class.

Classes usually include five to 10 people, but Ivory said that she will do a class even if it is smaller. She works around people’s schedules and can provide more detailed individual plans. Health insurance is billed for individual treatment, and medication is offered at no cost for a month.

“Even if someone is not really sure if they’re really ready to quit at this time, I can always talk to them on the phone and just give them some pointers and tips and advice,” she said. “A lot of time there’s a fear of the unknown, and a fear of not having their stress relief, and I can talk to them on the phone about those things and hopefully give them a little bit of motivation to change their thoughts.”

For more information or to register, contact 937-390-5333 or 937-390-5338.

By Christopher Selmek

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Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304

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