Start the Lenten Season Smoke-free

While the revelry of non-stop Mardi Gras parades will not be taking place this year due to COVID-19, the faithful are still planning to give up something for Lent, as they reflect and prepare to be their best ahead of Easter celebrations. Many will give up temptations, such as alcohol, red meat, sugar, and chocolate, while others will take the 40 days of the Lenten season to try to end their nicotine addiction. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), it takes about 8-11 quit attempts before a person finally quits. The Lenten season could be an ideal first step towards quitting.

Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, killing more than 480,000 Americans, including 6,500 Louisianans annually. And considering the current pandemic, quitting should be a priority for all smokers and vapers, regardless of faith, whose lungs may already be compromised, making them particularly susceptible to the impacts of COVID-19.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, as of 2019, nearly 23% percent of adults in Louisiana smoke. Nicotine dependence, which is both physical and mental, is currently the most common form of chemical dependence in the United States.

Additionally, the CDC’s annual “Tips from Former Smokers” campaign, with its graphic images of former smokers battling a variety of nicotine-related illnesses, has proven successful in helping smokers understand the devastating consequences of smoking while encouraging them to quit. 

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine recently published an estimate of the cost effectiveness of the CDC’s Tips from Former Smokers campaign, which concluded that between 2012 and 2018 the campaign helped avoid 129,100 premature deaths and provided $7.3 billion in healthcare sector savings.

“While quitting cold turkey (which many people tend to do for Lent) is not always the best way to quit, it is at least a start,” said Mike Rogers, CEO of the Smoking Cessation Trust Management Services. “Studies have shown that people tend to better succeed with a combination of nicotine replacement therapy, such as gums, lozenges, nasal sprays and patches, and group cessation counseling or telephone quit-line coaching. Unfortunately, 99% of those who try quitting cold turkey are smoking again in one week.” 

The Smoking Cessation Trust offers free cessation products and services for eligible Louisianans who smoked a cigarette by Sept. 1, 1988 through a wide variety of statewide providers. For all smokers, here are some helpful tips that might help with quitting cigarettes:

o    Distract yourself with a good deed – be helpful to a friend or family member to take your mind off cigarettes.

o    Stay busy – keep your mouth busy (chew gum or hard candy or drink water); go for a walk; take slow, deep breaths to relax yourself.

o    Remind yourself why you’re quitting – better health; for family and friends; more money in your pocket.

o    Additional quit tips can be found here at the CDC website.   

“With less than two years left to our free cessation program, it is our hope that all Louisiana smokers who are eligible to become a Trust member, will take full advantage of the free products and services we provide, so they can start their journey toward a smoke-free, healthier life,” added Rogers.

For more information or to register for the Trust, visit: Smoking Cessation Trust at www.smokefreela.org; Local: 504-529-5665 or Toll Free at: 855-259-6346.