In honor of Great American Smoke Out set for Nov. 15, Fisher-Titus Medical Center is offering five weeks of classes to help people stop smoking.
Two respiratory therapists will be manning the phones at the hospital for 24 hours that day to give free advice to tobacco users at (419) 668-8101, ext. 8449.
The first class will be at 6 p.m. on Nov. 8. The classes will cost $50, but the hospital will reimburse that amount to anyone who attends all five classes and follow program guidelines.
To prepare for making the Fisher-Titus complex completely tobacco-free after Jan. 1, the hospital is offering free care for all of their employees and their families to stop smoking. Employees who want to smoke or chew tobacco will have to leave the campus to indulge.
Kim Bailey and Denise Crumrine are respiratory therapists and certified tobacco treatment therapists for the hospital.
By taking advantage of the hospital's smoking cessation classes, more than 140 employees and their family members have tried to quit. "We've had several husband and wife couples who've gone through it together," said Lorna Strayer, vice president of rehabilitation and business development.
Strayer said the hospital offers a "multi-pronged approach" to help people stop smoking.
Bailey explained that many people are finding a new pill called Chantix helps stop the cravings to smoke. The hospital also offers nicotine patches and alternative therapies such as accupuncture and hypnosis.
She also said that the success rates for the hospital employees are higher than national averages with 67 percent reporting they hadn't smoked for six months. Chantix has a national rate of 44 percent stopping smoking after three months.
"Our programs deal with changing behavior," Bailey said, adding that the hospital's Web sitewww.ftmc.com has a special section to help people stop smoking.
Bailey said she has seen more people deciding to start smoking recently and many new smokers are very young. "The last few years it kind of tapered off, but we've seen an increase, especially in junior high and high school," Bailey said.
Statistics gathered by the Huron County Health Partners report about 20 percent of adults in the county smoke and five percent report using tobacco or snuff. Another 25 percent of county residents report they have stopped smoking.
National statistics list tobacco use as the most preventable cause of death in the U.S. and credit secondhand smoke for about 38,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. The Centers for Disease Control credits smoking with $167 billion in lost productivity and health care expenses.
Statistics gathered in 2005 report that 55 percent of youth in Ohio have tried cigarette smoking and 40 percent of Huron county youth have tried it. Sixteen percent of Huron County young people report they are current smokers.
Smokers under 18 years of age also reported much higher incidents of physical fights, thoughts of suicide, alcohol usage, marijuana usage and having sexual intercourse.
Bailey said the problems associated with tobacco use make efforts to educate students even as young as elementary school important. She and Crumrine visit schools to teach about the dangers of tobacco use.
The hospital also runs a contest open to all high school students in 29 northern Ohio. The winner of the best anti-smoking video will win $1,000.
The hospital has also joined with several other hospitals in the area to bring Patrick Reynolds, an anti-smoking speaker whose family owns the R.J. Reynolds tobacco company, to speak to all seventh-graders in the county on Feb . 11 and 12.