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A FRESH “My pastor had told me as long as I kept smoking, I was letting people – including my girls – know it’s OK to smoke,” Casabon says. “Obviously, it’s not. Then he said, ‘You have two daughters to walk down the aisle someday. Are you going to do it pulling an oxygen tank, or holding their hands?’ That hit hard.”

"Living with your motivation helps." ~ Marc Casabon

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START Ellenwood resident Marc Casabon has a cleaning day to thank for cleaning up his health. “My wife works for a doctor, and we clean the office,” Casabon says. “One weekend in January when we were cleaning, I picked up a copy of The Henry County Times. I saw a notice about the hospital’s stop smoking classes, and something just clicked.” Casabon began smoking when he was 17 years old. “I’d been smoking half my life at that point,” he says. “I always wondered if there were classes around here to help you stop, but I hadn’t seen anything. When I saw that article, I knew I’d gain something from it.” He called Piedmont Henry Hospital and registered for the Fresh Start Smoking Class. “Fresh Start is the American Cancer Society’s ‘quit smoking’ program,” says Vicky Ayers, RN, community educator for Piedmont Henry Hospital. “Our goal is to help you prepare for a successful quit attempt.”

SMOKING CESSATION

products that can help ease the transition from smoker to non-smoker. “I went cold turkey,” Casabon says. “I didn’t ease off like some people do, going from 20 cigarettes a day to 10 to 5. I decided my quit day would be the Monday before our next class. I quit on January 23.”

Session 3 teaches participants how to deal with quitting. “We talk about withdrawal symptoms, stress management, and thinking positively,” Ayers says. “Nicotine is just as addictive as cocaine. People need to know how to handle the changes their bodies will be going through.” Session 4 looks into the future and how participants can “stay quit.” “Many times, it’s a mental battle,” Ayers explains. “Everyone is vulnerable to slips, and they need to know how to recover from those slips.” The class also teaches participants to focus on what Ayers calls ripple benefits. “It’s not just the fact that you quit,” she says. “It’s the fact that quitting has longreaching benefits that touch so many areas of your life.” Casabon has seen those benefits in multiple situations. “I don’t breathe heavy anymore or feel like I’m going to pass out when I bend over to tie my shoes. Our daughters play travel softball, and

The Fresh Start Class includes four one-hour group sessions, spread over four weeks. Each class has a specific purpose:

Session 1 shares information that participants need to know as they make the decision to quit. “We talk about why they want to quit, why it’s so hard, why this is the right time,” Ayers says. “Ambivalence is a very common feeling in the program, especially in the beginning. But that doesn’t mean a person can’t successfully quit. We let them know that we’re not here to slap their hands or to judge them. We’re here to support them however we can.”

"So many causes of death are related to tobacco. We’re doing whatever we can to help people and have a big impact on our community." ~ Vicky Ayers, RN

Session 2 focuses on choosing a quit day and the different methods for quitting. Ayers discusses nicotine replacement therapy: FDA-approved Health for Life June/July 2012 | page 3


you can’t smoke in the parks. Now I get to see all of their games instead of going back to the parking lot for a cigarette.” Soon after quitting, Casabon learned that being a non-smoker even affected his job qualifications. He works as a welder, and went into Atlanta to discuss a potential project. “The first thing they asked was whether I was a smoker,” he says. “There’s no smoking on the property because of the type of business, but I didn’t know that. Being able to answer ‘no’ sure made me feel great.” Ayers says when participants like Casabon attend all four Fresh Start sessions, they have a good success rate. “The more classes they attend, the more we can help them. We find that 65-75 percent of those who attend all sessions will achieve success.” •

Convenient Billy Christian is a perfect example of how workplaces can help their employees get healthier. Christian’s supervisor at Bennett Motor Express approached him in January about the possibility of attending a stop-smoking class. “He said if we could get eight people to volunteer for the class, the hospital would have it here at Bennett,” Christian says. “That made it really convenient. I told him I would take the class, but I wasn’t going to quit – I wasn’t ready.” A simple thing on the first night of class changed Christian’s mind.

BREAK THE HABIT

START 4


SMOKING CESSATION

Quitting Community Educator Vicky Ayers, RN, showed the group a “tar jar” – a jar that shows the amount of tar from tobacco smoke that accumulates in a smoker’s lungs. “Seeing that jar was enough for me,” Christian says. “It’ll change your mind about smoking.” Christian dropped his 20-year-old habit that night.

“Those first couple of weeks were tough,” he says. “But I’ve seen some amazing things happen since then. Food tastes better, no stinky smell; I’m getting my breath back.” “You can go to all the classes you want, but you’ve got to make up your mind that you’re going to quit,” he says. “If you’ve got in your mind that you may be ready to quit, this class will help.” Although Christian did the hard work of quitting himself, he credits his employer for helping him get started. “If it wasn’t for Bennett, I probably wouldn’t have gone to a class. I probably wouldn’t have quit.” •

NOW

Fresh Start is an American Cancer Society program that educates smokers and gives them the tools they need to quit.

Programs are held quarterly at Piedmont Henry Hospital (once a week for four weeks). The class is free of charge and includes a certificate of completion that some businesses or insurance companies require as proof of participation. Call 678-604-1040 for information or to register.

Health for Life June/July 2012 | page 5


Fresh Start Program