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New Year’s resolution: Quit tobacco

Story Submitted: By Kimberly Allbritton, Madison County Department of Health

The Madison County Department of Health would like to encourage Madison County citizens to make a New Year's resolution to put down the cigarette, chewing tobacco and other tobacco-related products to live a healthier life and lead by example.

"This article is for anyone out there who currently uses tobacco products," said Kimberly Allbritton, Administrator of the Madison County Department of Health. "Tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, snuff and vaping e-cigarettes. We know you have heard all of the reasons you should not use tobacco, and the purpose of this article is not to lecture you about why you should quit. We want to inspire you to quit and offer some assistance if you want to quit."

The Madison County Department of Health reached out to former tobacco users in Jefferson and Madison Counties to find out why they decided to quit. One leader in the faith-based community stated that he quit because he was tired of smelling like smoke and knew he needed to quit for himself and others around him. Several others quit because they were diagnosed with a tobacco-related health issue. A health department employee quit because she watched several family members pass away from tobacco-related cancers and was finally afraid. One young lady, Kristin McCoy, decided to quit because she wanted to get healthy, wanted her future children to be healthy and was tired of relying on cigarettes every hour.

All of the people who talked with the Madison County Department of Health have tried multiple times to quit. The vast majority of people who have quit tobacco were unsuccessful the first time. Do not get discouraged if this is your situation. If you currently use tobacco, the Madison County Health Department encourages you to reach out to those you may know who have quit to get suggestions for how they did it. Listed below are some suggestions that may work for you:

Set a target date to quit and create a plan for yourself: Try not to pick a date when you know you will be stressed out or will be in a situation that will tempt you to use tobacco.

Let friends and family know you are planning to quit: Let people close to you know how they can help you to be successful.

Get rid of anything around you associated with tobacco use: Look around your house, car and place of business for tobacco-related items. Do not keep an emergency stash of tobacco "just in case."

Make a list of reasons you want to quit: Keep the list with you for those times you are tempted to use tobacco.

Identify "triggers" that tempt you to use tobacco: Make a list of everything that makes you want to use tobacco. This can be events, situations and feelings. Then write down how you plan to deal with those triggers.

Identify places that can help you quit tobacco: This can be support groups, online services, phone apps, your physician, among others.

Celebrate victories along the way: Plan to celebrate milestones such as one week or one month without tobacco and reward yourself.

If this doesn't work the first time, give yourself a little time and plan a new quit date. Take a look at what made you start using tobacco and make a plan to address it with your next quit attempt.

The Florida Department of Health has partnered with Big Bend Area Health Education Consortium (AHEC) to offer cessation classes and nicotine replacement therapies such as patches, gum and lozenges at no cost to you. Class times are listed below for Madison County. Call (850) 224-9340 to register. Big Bend AHEC staff will help you develop your quit plan and offer encouragement along the way.

First Wednesday of the month

Madison County Department of Health

218 SW Third Ave., in Madison, Fla.

10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Second Monday of the month

Madison County Memorial Hospital

224 NW Crane Ave., in Madison, Fla.

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Consult with Big Bend AHEC staff to see if there is an alternative if you want to join a class and these do not work for you. There are also telephone and online options by calling 1 (877) U-CAN-NOW (1-877-777-6534), or by logging onto www.quitnow.net/florida. Make a plan today and quit for the reasons that are important to you.

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