January 16, 2020
St. Peter’s Health has teamed up with the American Lung Association to bring a new evidence-based tobacco cessation program to the Helena area. Tobacco remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated health care costs related to tobacco totals $440 million each year in Montana alone. The goal of the seven-week program, which is ranked as the most effective cessation program in the country, is to help smokers, smoke-less tobacco users and e-cigarette users quit for good.
The program treats the physical dependence on nicotine with either prescription medications or combination uses of nicotine replacement therapies like the patch and gum. The program simultaneously addresses the behavioral dependence, or habit of using, through facilitated group classes. “It is extremely difficult to quit smoking because it’s a true addiction that’s often overlooked as a true addiction,” said St. Peter’s Health Wellness Program Developer and Educator Jaime Larese, a tobacco cessation treatment specialist. “It’s been estimated that 75 percent of tobacco users indicate that they want to quit, but only four percent can do so successfully on their own by quitting ‘cold turkey’. The goal of this program is to provide tobacco users what they clinically need—support and medication—to achieve their goals and quit for good.”
St. Peter’s Health Primary Care Physician Dr. Andrew Gilbert emphasizes that starting a conversation with your physician about your desire to quit is a great place to start. Only around 30 percent of people who want to quit using tobacco indicate that they visited their primary care provider to discuss options. According to Dr. Gilbert, “we definitely want to have conversations with our patients about what is available to help them quit. From a health perspective, helping patients quit smoking is one of the most important things that we can do for their overall and long-term health and well-being.”
Multiple failed attempts to quit can discourage tobacco users from trying again or trying available programs. It is estimated that people who successfully quit using tobacco have tried seven to ten times before they are successful. For Larese, the most important message is that quitting tobacco is possible for anyone. “We want all tobacco users to participate in this program, no matter how many times they have tried to quit or if this is their first time. By quitting you can save money, regain your health and extend your life or the lives of your loved ones. No matter how long you have used tobacco or what kind of tobacco you use, you can quit.”
Community members interested in learning more about the tobacco cessation program can send an inquiry to the St. Peter’s Wellness Team by visiting www.sphealth.org/tobaccocessation or calling 447-2527.