â?¢ According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 6,400 people in Louisiana die every year from smoking related illnesses.
â?¢ Annually, tobacco use costs our state $1.15 billion in direct medical expenses, and another $1.66 billion is lost in worker productivity.
â?¢ The future doesn't look rosy either; 36.4 percent of Louisiana teens smoke as compared with 22.9 percent nationally.
Last week, the Surgeon General cited a new study noting that there is no acceptable level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and Gov. Kathleen Blanco signed a smoking ban last week that will prohibit all smoking in Louisiana restaurants beginning Jan. 1, 2007.
The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL), a program of the Louisiana Public Health Institute, has set up a 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) hotline for smokers. The hotline offers more than just available resources for smokers; it is staffed by smoking cessation experts.
"These trained professionals are accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," says Jason Melancon, a spokesperson for TFL. "Quitline counselors also provide information on Nicotine Replacement Therapy, refer callers to local 'Freedom From Smoking' clinics, and schedule up to five follow-up phone calls as a means of continued support throughout the quitting process."
Smokers who want to quit must have an organized and comprehensive plan because they are facing a formidable opponent. Thomas Lotz, executive director of the American Lung Association (ALA) of Louisiana, notes that nicotine is "one of the most addictive substances on the planet." Peer pressure remains an enticing component for luring new smokers, and tobacco marketing still has a strong presence, Lotz says.
The good news is that smoking cessation programs have dramatically improved.
"They're much better now than they were 10 years ago," Lotz says. "Nicotine replacement therapy products are more available, and the amount of nicotine has been fine-tuned to match what the smoker needs in order to quit."
ALA of Louisiana partners with TFL, Opelousas General Health Center, Southwest Area Health Education Center and The Family Tree to offer "Freedom From Smoking" clinics. The clinics take place at these three area facilities, and are five weeks long with a total of eight sessions. Each clinic participant receives special attention in developing his/her own quitting plan, dealing with recovery symptoms, controlling weight, managing stress through relaxation techniques that work, and being prepared to fight those urges to light up again.
The clinics are reasonably priced and cost only $10 to $75 for the entire eight sessions.
Smokers who quit start collecting health benefits almost immediately. Dr. Kevin Kovitz, director of Interventional Pulmonology at Tulane University Hospital and Clinics, reports that a smoker's risk for heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and vascular disease begin to lessen as soon as they put out their last cigarette. Over time, an ex-smoker's chances of getting one of these diseases approach that of a non-smoker.
According to Lotz, the other half of the equation for successfully quitting is behavior modification. There is now more science to back up the idea that smokers should change their environments and actions when they are trying to quit and to make the changes permanent. Avoid smoking triggers and replace them with a healthier alternative. As Lotz simply puts it, "If you find yourself always smoking at bars and lounges, stop going to bars and lounges. Instead you might spend more time at non-smoking establishments like a gym, shopping mall, or the movies."
Lotz cautions concerned family members, friends, or spouses that the smoker is the one who makes the decision to quit. "You can't do this for your wife or your mother. You have to do this for yourself," Lotz says. Lotz calls this the action stage ' when the smoker has contemplated the smoking habit and decided it's time to do something about it.
Most importantly, it's never too late to quit. "It's always a good time to quit smoking," says Dr. Kovitz.
"Freedom from Smoking" clinics in Acadiana
Opelousas General Health Center, 539 East Prudhomme St.,Opelousas, 594-3989
Southwest Area Health Education Center, 103 Independence Boulevard, 989-0001
The Family Tree, 4540 Ambassador Caffery Parkway, C-100, 295-7021
newsy bits for the fam
Festival International de Louisiane is right around the corner — April 23-27 — and IND Monthly’s second annual Fest fIND contest is along for the ride.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
Georgia-based fried chicken chain would go up against Raising Cane’s, Chick-fil-A and others (like the Popeyes near its proposed location).
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The perfect color for Easter Sunday
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
A Scott businessman has pleaded guilty to failing to report a conspiracy to award Opelousas Housing Authority construction bids to his company.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
Egg-citing ideas for sharing at family gatherings
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, April 15, 2014:
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.
Now that lawmakers have shot down efforts to cap annual interest rates for payday loans, supporters for stricter regulations of the storefront lenders are rallying behind another strategy.
The Appropriations Committee held public testimony day, letting people talk about what they like or don't like about Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget recommendations for the 2014-15 fiscal year that begins July 1.
Court-appointed examiner says Lafayette businessman was “effectively on both sides” of transactions, opens door for legal action against him.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Lafayette-based insurance broker/risk management group bought by Florida firm for undisclosed sum; principals Landry and Harris continue to run local operations.
Lafayette police are investigating the death of a 21-year-old woman whose body was found early Sunday in a drainage ditch in Girard Park.
Former Grant parish District Attorney Ed Tarpley says he's running for the U.S. House seat currently held by Republican Vance McAllister of Swartz.
Louisiana-Lafayette got strong starting pitching and timely hitting to hold off Arkansas-Little Rock 6-3 in Sun Belt Conference baseball in Lafayette, La.
The life and legacy of Dave Perkins will be commemorated with a special INDesign Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the 2014 event on April 24.
Easy crafts in time for Easter
The Cane Fire Film Series presents “The Great Flood” on Monday, April 14, at the AcA.