By Nick Nahas
July 7, 2013 is an important day for Lenny Moore — that’s the day nearly four years ago that he quit smoking. He reached his goal with the help of the Tobacco Free Florida Quit Your Way Program. The organization provides free nicotine replacement patches, gum and lozenges, as well as counseling to help people over the age of 18 overcome their tobacco dependence. “I would absolutely recommend Tobacco Free Florida to anyone,” said Moore. “I do not think I would have been successful without them.”
Several tools are available to ensure that clients are successful in quitting all forms of tobacco. Participants can talk to a quit coach over the phone, or they can register for group sessions with others trying to achieve the same goal. Web Quit is another option where virtual tips are available 24/7. The text messaging program provides tips and practical advice in conjunction with email tips and a quit guide. All these options allow people to make use of the tools that best fit their lifestyle.
Five topics are touched on during a Group Quit session, including the dangers of tobacco use, the benefits of quitting, the challenges of quitting, aids for quitting, as well as support for quitting. Members are educated on the health effects related to tobacco use, but more importantly, participants are taught how beneficial quitting tobacco is and what to expect when quitting. The facilitator of the class guides participants as they identify triggers and withdrawal symptoms, and brainstorms ways to cope with these changes.
“Tobacco Free Florida’s mission is to create a healthy, sustainable, tobacco-free environment for all Floridians,” said Brittany McNaughton, the Tobacco Cessation Specialist/Systems Change Coordinator at the USF AHEC Tobacco Program Office. According to McNaughton, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States. Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. It also harms nearly every organ of the body.
The Tobacco Free Florida Area Health Education Center Cessation Program is a statewide network consisting of five program offices at the University of Florida, University of Miami, University of South Florida (USF), Nova Southeastern University and Florida State University, and 10 affiliated regional AHEC Centers.
The program provides services to all Floridians. Potential members are encouraged to pre-register for classes and come willing to quit. “The vision of the program is to create a Tobacco Free Florida,” said McNaughton.