According to Community Health Educator Beulah Hofmann, RN, MSN, Clay County has seen a 50 percent increase in the past year of people quitting smoking.
The Health Department has a free Stop Smoking Program, which requires a doctor's prescription to participate. Currently, six citizens are participating in the 12-week program.
The smoker meets once a week with Hofmann individually for counseling sessions.
Hofmann said she follows each person's weight and blood pressure to make sure they aren't having an adverse response to quitting smoking.
"It's a step down program," Hofmann said. "They start at the highest level of replacement and get down to the lowest level of replacement in those 12 weeks."
The smokers use nicotine patches during the program, beginning with 21 milligrams of nicotine for four weeks.
The next four weeks they use patches with 14 milligrams embedded inside them, and during the last four weeks of the program they use nicotine patches with only 7 milligrams of nicotine.
Hofmann said the success rate of the program really depends on the person and how determined they are to quit. She explained about 50 percent of those to begin the program quit after a few weeks and start smoking again.
"They just aren't ready to quit smoking," she said. "A lot of people do not complete the program for one reason or another. But those that complete the program, 100 percent of them are smoke-free. I haven't had any one still smoking after the 12 weeks."
The counseling during the program includes issues about health, exercise, stress, maintaining a healthy weight and how to eat right while stopping smoking.
"It's important that they understand urges and the length of time they are present," Hofmann said, explaining that when a person knows why and when they usually pick up a cigarette, it can be easier to stop. "They should understand what stressful situations occur, who they are around, what time of day it is and what's going on that determines whether they pick up a cigarette. Then they can avoid those situations or modify them."
Hofmann said it is important for a person to quit smoking to improve their overall health, especially their heart and lung health, as well as to improve the environment for the rest of society.
"Another good reason to quit is to prepare for the state-wide smoking ban in public places," Hofmann said.
For those interested in joining the Stop Smoking Program, call the Health Department at 448-9021, or visit your doctor to be referred to the program.