Judy Hiester and the Routt County Tobacco Prevention Partnership have a simple message for area tobacco users: Anybody can quit.
But Hiester understands the cessation process is infinitely more complex than any three-word proclamation.
"Quitting smoking or chewing is extremely difficult," Hiester said. "Nicotine addiction is likened as being as addictive as cocaine or heroin. Breaking that addiction can be extremely stressful and very overwhelming."
The Routt County Tobacco Prevention Partnership and Grand Futures Prevention Coalition hope Great American Smokeout events and services will help tobacco users interested in quitting overcome the obstacles millions of Americans face when attempting to stop their addictions.
The 26th Great American Smokeout is Nov. 20, and its goal is to encourage smokers and chewers to quit for a day in the hope they will quit forever. Nearly 2,500 Routt County residents smoke or chew tobacco, but this year only 50 have taken advantage of local cessation classes or free cessation services offered by the state, Hiester said.
As part of this year's Great American Smokeout events, the Routt County Tobacco Prevention Partnership has assembled 400 "quit kits" to be given to tobacco users who want help in their effort to quit. Each free kit includes information about tobacco use and preparing to quit, referrals to free services such as the Colorado QuitLine, an invitation to the county's first Quit Fair, stress relievers such as gum and stress balls, and a cost calculator.
The Quit Fair is from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 20 in Yampa Valley Medical Center's Conference Room 1. The fair, which will feature cessation program information, support from former smokers, oral care information and evaluations, nutritional support, stress relief, hypnosis and other support services, has been developed, in part, because the success rate for ending tobacco use is much greater when people have support services to help them, Hiester said.
More than 80 percent of smokers in Colorado say they think about quitting, and 53 percent of those people try to quit at least once a year, Hiester said. The average smoker makes seven attempts before quitting successfully. Of those who quit, only 3 percent are able to do so cold turkey. The success rate jumps to 30 percent when users have support services in place.
"We're really trying to feature all different kinds of support services for people who want to quit," Hiester said. "The message we want to give is that every attempt (at quitting) counts. Every attempt brings you closer to the reality of being tobacco-free."
Hiester encouraged friends, relatives and loved ones of tobacco users who may be ready to try quitting to pick up quit kits on their behalf. The kits are available at Oak Creek's Bonfiglio Drug, the Clark Store, the Yampa Public Library and the customer service counters at Hayden Mercantile and Steamboat's City Market, Curve Market and Safeway grocery stores.
For more information on the Great American Smokeout, the Quit Fair or other tobacco prevention services, call the Routt County Tobacco Prevention Partnership at 879-1632 or Grand Futures Prevention Coalition at 879-6188.
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