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
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Oscar de la Renta dies; Pistorius sentenced; World Series begins and more national and international news for Tuesday, October 21, 2014.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
Three bedroom in Lawtell or two bedroom in Rayne
Fall's new darling
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
An investment group led by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets will buy the Louisiana power company Cleco for $3.4 billion.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
"I feel it is appropriate to speak up when there are topics that are being bandied about with little or no factual data to back them."
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Two bedroom cottage in Lafayette or three bedroom traditional in Erath
Gulf Brew ready threads
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.
Coming off the high of a fourth quarter comeback against Tampa Bay and a helpful bye week, linebacker Junior Galette sees a real turnaround coming for New Orleans' struggling defense.
Former President Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party's most popular surrogate this fall, is heading to Louisiana early next week for a campaign rally with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Time and again you hear people say DA Mike Harson is unbeatable because he's doled out political favors over the past 20 years. But a new lawsuit could end that speculation.
We welcome nominations from readers and leaders throughout the business community in Lafayette and the five surrounding parishes.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Ebola is kind of terrifying if you watch too much Fox News and CNN. Especially Fox, which makes everything look terrifying because, well, War on Christmas and Obama and all.
Local developer’s Lake Charles Gardens LLC purchases buildings and leases; land still owned by Dugas family.
One bedroom townhouse or two bedroom townhouse in Lafayette
Hit the barre for a good cause