MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. ? -- Many people have habits they would like to quit. Smoking or tobacco use and excessive drinking are serious habitual, even addictive, problems. The Health Promotions Program at the Branch Medical Clinic here and MCCS Personal Services at MCLB Albany have joined forces to help base personnel kick the smoking habit.
A seven-week smoking cessation class guides potential non-smokers through their struggle to quit. Some may have smoked for 20 years or more while others have been smoking for only two or three years.
Some of the reasons why smokers should put out their cigarettes permanently include the money they spend to support their habit. With the taxes imposed on cigarette sales, it costs some smokers between $2.50 and $5 a pack, depending on the brand. If a smoker goes through a pack a day, they spend $35 a week, $140 a month, or $1,680 a year on cigarettes.
The money spent for cigarettes could go for much more enjoyable pursuits, such as vacations, fine dining, recreation, even sports equipment.
Some smokers want to quit so they can spend more time with their grandchildren. Others quit for health reasons, and some because it is no longer socially acceptable and because studies show it poses health risks to others.
According to the National Cancer Institute, smoking causes more than 400,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. The habit increases an individual's chances for lung cancer and many other kinds of cancer.
Secondhand smoke has been linked to 300,000 cases of bronchitis and pneumonia in infants and young children, according to the Cancer Institute. It also increases a child's chances of developing inner ear infections, and it causes coughing, wheezing and aggravates asthma. A child whose parents smoke is more likely to take up the habit himself.
Before quitting, a smoker must admit to himself that he is addicted to smoking. It takes a lot of courage for a smoker to commit to quitting the habit, said Navy Lt. Vicki Jernigan, director of Health Promotions and head nurse at the clinic here.
The class's group setting gives students a support structure to help each other quit. Research has shown that the program is more successful in helping people kick the habit than using medications such as Zyban, nicotine gum or the patch, said Jernigan, who smoked for six years, but quit.
Jernigan said it is important for the class facilitator to understand the difficulties that go with quitting smoking. The class supports the use of medications if smokers feel they need it along with lecture.
Before the class begins, smokers who want to quit must ask themselves several questions.
Do I want to quit smoking for myself?
Is quitting a priority for me?
Have I tried to quit smoking before?
Do I believe smoking is dangerous to my health?
Am I committed to trying to quit, even though it may be tough at first?
If a smoker can answer yes to more than one of these questions, they are ready for the class, said Jernigan.
More information will be published as the class continues. Although, it is too late to attend the current class, future class dates will be announced when they are scheduled. For more information on the smoking cessation class, call Jernigan at 639-5998.