Help is available to quit smoking

Image courtesy of Wise Geek. 

Tobacco Free Florida Area Health Education Centers Cessation program hosts group sessions to help people acquire the tools to quit smoking once and for all. Florida Blue, located at  2116 Apalachee Parkway, holds this event once a month, every second Thursday.

The program brings awareness on the impact of tobacco. More than 480,000 Americans die every year from cigarette smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control. More than 41,000 die each year from second-hand smoke. More than 2,000 people under the age of 18 become regular smokers every day.

All forms of tobacco are harmful to the body, which includes cigarettes, cigarillos, pipes, chewing tobacco, moist snuff and more. Most millennials believe that smoking hookah is harmless. In reality, 60 minutes of smoking hookah is equal to a half pack of cigarettes.  

Nicotine is a tobacco plant and is the addictive drug that keeps people using. The health effects of tobacco use are lung cancer, oral cancer, heart disease, and vascular damage, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), reproductive problems and more.

“I watched my father go through the process of quitting smoking only to a point where he gets COPD anyway. He started smoking at 9,” said Yolonda Candelaria.

Nicotine has a powerful effect on the brain. Nicotine has an addiction that has a physical, psychological and cultural effect on the brain. Tobacco Free Florida AHEC Cessation program reminds people that they have several reasons to quit and how to lead a healthy lifestyle.

“I stopped smoking for several reasons, I fell in love, you know that does a lot to people,” Yolonda Candelaria said. “When my partner and I were dating he told me, I won’t be with a smoker. He saw his father have heart attacks and open heart surgery as a result of smoking.

“He was very adamant that we would not date if I was a smoker. I can honestly tell you after dating for a while, I knew he was the one,” she added. “He was important enough to me that I quit. As a parent of three teenagers, it is important to me to set a good example for them and for 20 years I have not been a smoker.”

People can make up several reasons why they use tobacco but it’s up to them to want to change. This program gives you a step-by-step toolkit to help you embrace the right tactics to quit smoking.

“This program was intriguing to me because I have family members that have used tobacco or are currently still using tobacco. I just wanted to be involved in something I’ve never done and help make a true impact on somebody’s life,” said Ambreia Young.

The program provides people with free medications to help them quit. Nicotine replacement therapy has different medication, which is the nicotine patch, gum or lozenge. This method makes it easier for smokers to not crave nicotine as much.

“I was really inspired by this program mission here because they are very active in the community and I think it is an important step for people to be able to quit smoking to have the nicotine replacement therapy,” said Melissa Budesa.

Every year about 1.3 million smokers quit smoking, the CDC reports.