Local Leaders Accept Challenge to Stop Smoking
Spokane Regional Health District is joining forces with local community leaders for Spokane’s first-ever Stop Smoking Challenge, encouraging residents who smoke to make a quit attempt by Nov. 16, 2017, the date for this year’s Great American Smokeout.
Spokane City Council President, Ben Stuckart, who currently smokes, was one of the first leaders to accept the Stop Smoking Challenge. Stuckart is quitting for good, but anyone can accept the challenge to quit for a day, a week, month, or to say goodbye to smoking for good.
Says Stuckart, “Smoking is an ugly addiction that continues to kill too many of our neighbors and loved ones. The health problems and costs associated with smoking just compound the many problems facing Spokane’s working families. As someone who smokes and as a leader in our community, I’m in a unique position to help by sharing my quit attempt with others in the hopes they can try to quit too.”
In the spirit of the Challenge, Stuckart is extending the dare to fellow policymakers, including council member, Mike Fagan, and state representative, Timm Ormsby.
Concludes Stuckart, “Although politics and opinions can certainly divide us at times, I think my peers and I share common ground in ultimately wanting to protect the health and well-being of our community and certainly we can all agree that quitting smoking improves lives.”
The health district’s Stop Smoking Challenge is being done under as part of Done My Way, an evocative, culturally appropriate local campaign it launched last spring in partnership with CHAS Health. The campaign features compelling local stories told by real former smokers, highlighting a variety of quit methods, including where to get free gum and patch for those without insurance, and providing a glimpse at better lives without cigarettes.
Stuckart will be using several of the campaign’s proven cessation resources and tips for quitting, including:
- Using nicotine replacement patches, in combination with counseling
- The combination of counseling and pharmacologic therapies can produce higher quit rates than either one alone.
- Setting a quit date
- Stuckart chose Oct. 8, 2017 as his first official day to give up cigarettes and has been decreasing the number of cigarettes he smokes leading up to his quit day. He’s also telling family and friends about his quit plan for support and accountability.
- Preparing for challenges.
- The urge to smoke is short—usually only 3 to 5 minutes, but those moments can feel intense. Stuckart carries a list of healthy ways he will cope like going for a bike ride and using cinnamon toothpicks.
- Stuckart can call the Washington State Department of Health’s Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW for help getting supplemental nicotine replacement gum, and he can use the state’s SmartQuit app for additional support.
To encourage others, Stuckart will share his progress on his social media channels including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, using the hashtag #GASOSpokane.
Other leaders who have accepted the Challenge, either on behalf of themselves or their communities, will be announced in coming weeks.
Tobacco use remains a leading cause of preventable death and chronic disease in Spokane County, as well as in Washington state and nationally. The total annual health care cost in Washington state directly caused by cigarette smoking is estimated to be $2.8 billion.
“Hundreds of lives are lost each year in Spokane County due to smoking, and for every person who dies, many more local people live with an illness caused by smoking,” said Dr. William Lockwood, CHAS Health, chief clinical officer. “We cannot afford to continue watching the human and economic toll from tobacco rob our community.”
The good news is smokers can, and do, quit. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, today there are more former smokers than current smokers. Quitting is different for everyone, and sometimes it takes 7-10 quit attempts before a person quits for good. That’s why the challenge is for any person who smokes and is thinking about quitting.
The health district will continue to update media and the community on the Stop Smoking Challenge, leading up to the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 16, when the health district will partner with numerous local agencies to host local events and offer free quit kits for community members who are quitting. More information will be available on the Spokane Regional Health District website at www.srhd.org. For more information on Done My Way, including campaign resources and links to testimonial videos, visit www.donemyway.org. Become a fan of SRHD on Facebook to receive local safety and wellness tips. You can also follow us on Twitter @spokanehealth.