Vermont Quits: Part Two - Quitting: What Helps?

01/13/09 5:38PM By Neal Charnoff
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(Charnoff) The health hazards of smoking are well documented. And research shows that most people who smoke want to quit.

Today, in the second part of our series, "Vermont Quits", we visit with one Vermonter who utilized the Vermont Quit Network, which is funded by money from the 1998 tobacco settlement.

It may be hard to believe that cartoon characters were used to sell cigarettes to the American public.

(Cartoon) "The Flintstones, brought to you by Winston, America's best selling, best taking filter cigarette....".

(Charnoff) And once the Flintstones helped to get people hooked, for many, the habit was there to stay.

(Film clip, Basic Instinct) "I thought you didn't have any cigarettes?... Oh, I found some in my pocket, would you like one? ... I told you I quit. ...It won't last."

(Charnoff) That's Sharon Stone taunting Michael Douglas in the film, "Basic Instinct".

And Stone's character has a point....research shows that it takes the average smoker 5 to 7 tries before successfully quitting.

So how DO people kick the habit?

(Crafts) "I got a box of patches and I got a box of lozenges for free!"

(Charnoff) Jane Crafts of Waitsfield is 69 years old. She started smoking when she was 15.

This past summer, Crafts had a scare with breast cancer. After successful treatment, her physician encouraged her to quit smoking, and suggested she try one of the smoking cessation programs offered by the Vermont Quit Network.

Crafts took advantage of the network's offer of free vouchers for nicotine replacements, such as the nicotine patch and lozenges.

(Crafts) "I put it on in the morning, and I take it off when I go to bed."

(Charnoff) Crafts shows off the nicotine patch she's wearing.

(Crafts) "Can you see it? (Oh yeah, it's pretty looks like a band-aid)... Yeah"

(Charnoff) Jane Crafts has been smoke-free since Thanksgiving.

She says she experienced the expected withdrawal symptoms, including irritability and a jittery feeling.

For her, keeping busy is key.

(Crafts) "The thing of it is that you gotta keep moving. When I sit and I watch TV I knit, so I'm doing something at the same time."

(Charnoff) Crafts says she couldn't have quit without her counselors from the Central Vermont Medical Center, who are part of the Vermont Quit Network.

(Phone rings)

(Charnoff) A counselor calls at least once a week to check in with her. (Hello...)

The counselor also asks about Jane's husband Manny, who has quit chewing tobacco.

"He's doing just fine - chewing a lot of bubble gum!"

The Vermont Quit Network is part of the Department of Health. It works with health care providers around the state.

The network provides counseling by phone or online.

And the network offers tools to help smokers quit. Vouchers can save smokers nearly $200 for the recommended 8-week supply of nicotine replacements.

But replacement therapy is not for everyone.

Store clerk, Merina Martinez of Montpelier has smoked for fourteen years.

Martinez says that her attempt to quit using nicotine gum was unsuccessful.

(Martinez1) "That didn't help at all. It made me want to smoke more actually, because is still had nicotine in it, and then I just didn't have the motion of the hand moving of the cigarette, so it made me want to get a cigarette even more actually."

Sheri Lynn is Tobacco Control Chief for the Vermont Health Department.

Lynn says Quit Network has introduced a new campaign this year that might appeal to people like Martinez. It's called "Your Quit, Your Way".

(PSA) "Trying to quit smoking on your own? Thousands of Vermonter are...."

Sheri Lynn says the Your Quit Your Way campaign was designed to appeal to the independence of Vermonters who would prefer to quit on their own terms.

(Lynn) "The thought of planning for a quit is something that's a little foreign to people that smoke, so recognizing that, and providing them easy access to whenever they are ready was one of the other features of this particular campaign, your quit your way. So when it is your turn within any given 24 hours, you can go ahead and sign on."

(Charnoff) On a recent snowy morning, Jane Craft's husband stokes the wood stove.

Although it's only been two months, Crafts says she's already feeling the health benefits of quitting.

(Crafts) " I have much more energy. I constantly felt like I had a cold, or a sinus infection. And of course I was coughing. I definitely taste food better. I smell more things."

(Charnoff) Crafts says that in addition to the nicotine patches, the weekly phone calls from her counselors have given her the strength to stay away from cigarettes.

(Crafts) "They're very encouraging. And I'm sure that if something happened where I might slip, I wouldn't feel bad calling them and saying I fell off the wagon"

(Charnoff) For Jane Crafts, quitting alone was not an option. She was able to rely on support from her husband, her doctors and her counselors in her quest to become smoke-free.

(Crafts) "They saved my life. I never ever could have done this without it."

(Charnoff) Tomorrow in our series, we'll talk with a UVM researcher about the best methods for kicking the habit. And at noon on Vermont Edition, a look at how the tobacco settlement funds have been used to curb smoking rates.

AP Photo/Fred Hayes 



Related Links

Vermont Department of Health Tobacco control website Coalition for a Tobacco Free Vermont Main Vermont Quits page Vermont Quit Network
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