Smoking is a difficult habit to break any time, but it can be even more difficult during times of additional stress. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the holiday season, many people are facing stressful situations and triggers at every turn.
To help local community members and people across Michigan break this habit, MidMichigan Health is hosting the American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking® program — a free, eight-week program that is led by a certified American Association facilitator. The sessions will be conducted virtually from 5:30 to 7 p.m., on Thursdays via GoToMeeting, and will take place Oct. 29-Dec. 17.
While this program has not been offered by MidMichigan Health – Mt. Pleasant before, it has been successfully offered in other regions of the health system. MidMichigan Health – Mt. Pleasant has offered other tobacco cessation programs in the past, though.
“We are seeing much more registration with this virtual format, so we’re excited to see that level of participation with this program,” says Ashley Brenner, community health specialist for MidMichigan Medical Centers - Gratiot, Mt. Pleasant, and Clare.
Brenner says around 20% of adults in Isabella County are smokers, which is about the state average; however, Isabella County does have a higher rate of babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy.
“In Isabella County, it’s about 22% and the state average is 15%,” she says. “So, this is an option for those women to take to quit smoking through their pregnancy and beyond.”
Pregnant women who smoke and have a partner or spouse who also smokes can take this class together.
People who take the class will learn about replacements for nicotine, make a quit plan, identify their individual triggers, hear from a panel of former smokers, and much more. Erica Phillips, community health specialist for MidMichigan Medical Center – Alpena, says what makes this program special is that it is designed to help people as individuals and to let each individual person tailor it in a way that will most benefit them.
“The Freedom From Smoking model is unique in that no single quit smoking plan is effective for every person. This model brings in behavior change. It has a systematic approach that assists any type of person in their own way,” Phillips says.
Registration for the Freedom From Smoking program can be completed at www.midmichigan.org/freedomfromsmoking until Friday, Oct. 23 and is open to anyone over the age of 18. Those who need assistance with registration may call MidMichigan Health Line toll-free at (800) 999-3199. All program materials and login information will be mailed to registrants prior to the first meeting. Participants will join the GoToMeeting from their smartphones, computer, tablet, or other device with an internet connection.
Monitoring your health is always important, and if you are or have been a smoker there are some additional health risks to be aware of. If you are a smoker or have been a smoker in the past, you are encouraged to complete a Lung Health Assessment in order to assess your risk for lung cancer.