Start the new year smoke-free

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

As 2018 comes to an end and many people begin to make New Year’s resolutions, one resolution that consistently appears at the top of many lists is “quitting smoking.” Louisiana currently ranks 48 out of 50 states for tobacco use according to the recently released 2018 America’s Health Rankings Report from the United Health Foundation. Presently, 23.1 percent of the state’s adult population lights up. According to the CDC,the number of adult smokers in the U.S. is now estimated at 14 percent (as of 2017). The state’s overall health ranking is now 50, one spot down from 49 in 2017.

“With existing and potential smokers now being convinced on a daily basis that ‘safer somehow equals safe’ when it comes to new, high-tech cessation tools, unfortunately, we will continue to see a steady rise of Louisiana citizens smoking at even higher rates,” said Mike Rogers, CEO, Smoking Cessation TrustManagement Services.

“To combat this challenge, the Trust continues to help people face their challenges by offering eligible smokers a variety of free products and services, as well as advocating for a rise in the age in which young people can purchase tobacco products to 21, to protect our youth from a lifetime of addiction to nicotine. These efforts are designed to help people kick (or never start) a nicotine addiction. To date, the Smoking Cessation Trust has enrolled more than 95,000 members with a goal of 200,000 by 2022.”

As 2019 approaches, the Smoking Cessation Trust encourages Louisiana smokers to ring in the New Year cigarette-free by following these five quit steps from the CDC:

Step 1: Set a Quit Date

Pick a date—like the start of the New Year—to quit smoking. This will give you enough time to prepare. Really think about your quit date. Avoid choosing a day where you know you will be busy, stressed, or tempted to smoke (for example, a night out with friends, days where you may smoke at work).

Step 2: Tell family and friends that you are trying to quit

Telling family, friends and coworkers about a quit attempt can increase a smoker’s chances of success. By sharing what kind of support a smoker is looking for–either encouragement or accountability–the loved one can be involved in the process. The more people a smoker has in his corner, the more likely he is to succeed. Have a spouse or friend who wants to quit too? Do it together!

Step 3: Plan for challenges while quitting

Stopping smoking is not just about dealing with nicotine cravings. Many smokers need to work through the habitual tendencies surrounding cigarette use. By going to a group workshop run by a certified tobacco treatment specialist (“CTTS”) smokers can learn how to work through cravings and triggers like stress, boredom and nervousness without reaching for a cigarette. Many major hospitals across the state of Louisiana offer cessation counseling; contact the Trust for a full list.

Step 4: Remove cigarettes and other tobacco from your home, car and work

You will be tempted to smoke during your quit. Stay strong; you can do it! Removing things that remind you of smoking will get you ready to quit. A few good ideas are:

---Throw away all your cigarettes and matches. Give or throw away your lighters and ashtrays. Remember the ashtray and lighter in your car!

---Don't save one pack of cigarettes “just in case.” Keeping even one pack just makes it easier to start smoking again.

---Remove the smell of cigarettes from your life. Make things clean and fresh at work‚ in your car‚ and at home. Clean your drapes and clothes. Shampoo your car interior. You will be less tempted to light up if you don't smell smoke.

---Have your dentist clean your teeth to get rid of smoking stains. Your teeth will look amazing. When you quit smoking, they will always look that way.

Step 5: Talk with your doctor about nicotine replacement therapy or pharmaceutical help

Smokers should discuss cessation treatments with their doctor. The Smoking Cessation Trust provides access to all recommended cessation methods through their provider partners across Louisiana; knowing an individual’s medical history, the doctor can suggest and prescribe pharmaceuticals or a nicotine replacement therapy that will work best for each smoker. Doctors can also talk about the benefits of quitting and what to expect.

For more information, to see testimonials of former smokers, to find a provider or to sign up for the Smoking Cessation Trust please visit or call: 504-529-5665 or toll-free at 1-855-259-6346.

Contributed by the Smoking Cessation Trust