Free help available to smokers who want to quit

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Special to

LAPLACE — As 2015 begins, many people are working on their New Year’s Resolutions.

One resolution that consistently appears near the top of many lists is “quitting smoking.”

Louisiana ranks 44th (up from 46th in 2013) out of 50 states for tobacco use, according to the recently released 2014 America’s Health Rankings Report from the United Health Foundation.

Presently, 23.5 percent of the state’s adult population lights up, well above the national average of 19 percent.

What follows are five steps from the CDC, which the Smoking Cessation Trust believes could help Louisiana smokers ring in the New Year cigarette-free:

Step 1: Set a date

Pick a date within the next two weeks to quit smoking. This will give you enough time to prepare. Really think about your quit date. Avoid choosing a day where you know you will be busy, stressed or tempted to smoke (for example, a night out with friends or days where you may smoke at work).

Step 2: Tell people

Telling family, friends and coworkers about a quit attempt can increase a smoker’s chances of success. By sharing what kind of support a smoker is looking for — either encouragement or accountability — the loved one can be involved in the process. The more people a smoker has in his or her corner, the more likely to succeed.

Have a spouse or friend who wants to quit too? Do it together!  

Step 3: Plan on challenges

Stopping smoking is not just about dealing with nicotine cravings.

Many smokers need to work through the habitual tendencies surrounding cigarette use. By going to a group workshop run by a trained cessation specialist, smokers can learn how to work through cravings and triggers like stress, boredom and nervousness without reaching for a cigarette.

Many major hospitals in the area offer cessation counseling.

Step 4: Remove cigarettes

You will be tempted to smoke during your quit. Removing things that remind you of smoking will get you ready to quit. A few good ideas are:

Throw away all cigarettes and matches. Give or throw away lighters and ashtrays.

Don’t save one pack of cigarettes “just in case.” Keeping even one pack makes it easier to start smoking again.

Remove the smell of cigarettes. Make things clean and fresh at work‚ the car and at home. Clean drapes and clothes. Shampoo the car. Everyone is less tempted to light up if they don’t smell smoke.

Have a dentist clean your teeth to get rid of smoking stains. Your teeth will look amazing. When you quit smoking, they will always look that way.

Step 5: Talk to a doctor

Smokers should discuss cessation treatments with their doctor. The Smoking Cessation Trust provides access to all recommended cessation methods; knowing an individual’s medical history, the doctor can suggest and prescribe pharmaceuticals or a nicotine replacement therapy that will work best for each smoker.

Doctors can also talk about the benefits of quitting and what to expect. Programs such as Smoking Cessation Trust can save a smoker hundreds of dollars annually and applying for benefits only takes a few minutes.

Louisiana residents who began smoking cigarettes before Sept. 1, 1988, and who are approved for inclusion in the Trust program receive free services that include physician office visits, nicotine replacement therapies (gum, patch, lozenges), prescription cessation medications, group cessation counseling and telephone cessation coaching.

For more information or to sign up for the Smoking Cessation Trust, visit or call 1-855-259-6346.