TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Dec. 15, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Every year, millions of Floridians attempt to quit smoking. As 2010 comes to a close and Florida smokers consider making their 2011 New Year's resolutions, the Florida Department of Health and Tobacco Free Florida can help them quit for good with free support through phone, web and in-person quit smoking resources.
On the heels of the groundbreaking U.S. Surgeon General's report released December 9, it is more important than ever before to quit smoking immediately. The report emphasizes the importance of quitting early in life, in order to protect immunity and minimize the damage caused by each cigarette. The report adds no level of exposure to tobacco smoke is safe.
Although permanently quitting tobacco is very difficult, it is not impossible. Sixty-one percent of adult Floridians who have ever smoked have quit and there are more former smokers in Florida than current smokers. In 2009, about 58 percent Floridian smokers tried to quit.
Step One: Set a Date
In the United States, seven out of 10 current smokers report a desire to quit. The first step is to set a quit date. The American Cancer Society suggests picking a date within the next month that is not too far to allow time for the smoker to change their mind, but that will give them enough time to prepare. Once the quit date is set, cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters should be removed from the home, office and vehicle.
Sharing the quit date with friends and family, and asking for their support is key. A person's chance of smoking decreases by 67 percent when his or her spouse quits. It is critical to ask family and friends who smoke not to smoke when the person who is trying to quit is present, and not to leave cigarettes around.
Step Two: Get Help
In many cases, treating tobacco addiction requires a comprehensive approach, including counseling and medications.
Tobacco Free Florida offers a number of free resources to help smokers quit.
- Phone: Call the Florida Quitline at 1-877-U-CAN-NOW to speak with a Quit Coach who will help assess the user's addiction and create a personalized quit plan.
- Online: Enroll in online counseling with the Florida Quitline, where each user can create a personalized, web-based quit plan. Visit https://www.quitnow.net/florida to enroll.
- In-person: Visit the Florida Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Network's website, http://ahectobacco.com, to locate a local AHEC and sign up for Quit Smoking Now group classes.
Step Three: Keep Trying
"Quitting is only half the battle," said Kim Berfield, Deputy Secretary of Policy and Advocacy for the Florida Department of Health. "Relapses happen, but it's important that people keep trying and trying, as each attempt to quit is a learning process and a step in the right direction."
Most successful quitters make several attempts before finally quitting permanently. In fact, the average number of attempts varies anywhere from five to more than 10.
Smoking kills more than 28,600 adult Floridians over age 35 every year. The damage smoking causes is immediate, but the benefits of quitting are instant as well.
The "Reverse the Damage" advertisements, which are currently airing as part of Tobacco Free Florida's mass-media public awareness campaign, focus on the immediate health benefits of quitting smoking while also demonstrating the dramatic health consequences of each cigarette.
"These campaign advertisements have been used in other states and are proven to generate increased calls to local quitlines," Berfield added. "Our hope with this campaign is to inspire Florida's smokers to call the Florida Quitline and take advantage of the free resources available to them."
ABOUT TOBACCO FREE FLORIDA
Tobacco Free Florida (TFF) is a statewide cessation and prevention campaign funded by Florida's tobacco settlement fund. The program is managed by the Florida Department of Health, specifically the Bureau of Tobacco Prevention Program. TFF's mission is to combat the pervasive problem of tobacco use in the Sunshine State, where each year, more than 28,000 Floridians die from smoking and tobacco-related diseases cost the state an estimated $19.6 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity.
Since its inception in February 2008, TFF has reached millions of Floridians through advertising, grassroots initiatives, social media, and public relations efforts as a means of providing information and offer resources to help tobacco users quit. Smokers and smokeless tobacco users interested in quitting are encouraged to call the Florida Quitline at 1-877-U-CAN-NOW to speak with a quit coach. To learn about TFF and the state's free quit smoking resources, visit www.tobaccofreeflorida.com or follow the campaign on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TobaccoFreeFlorida or Twitter at twitter.com/tobaccofreefla.
SOURCE Tobacco Free Florida; Florida Department of Health