Breaking free from addiction isnâ€™t easy.
Mollie Taylor, smoking cessation facilitator at Lincoln Medical Center, has faced the experience firsthand. A former smoker, she now helps others fight their battle against nicotine through a program called Freshstart.
Though the program is only held quarterly at the hospital, Taylor offers assistance year-round to those who wish to quit.
â€œI believe itâ€™s very difficult to quit,â€ said Taylor. â€œItâ€™s like anything else. You have to work at it.â€
Smokers can join a united front against tobacco Thursday for the American Cancer Societyâ€™s Great American Smoke Out.
The event, first observed in 1977, is held the third Thursday in November each year. In many communities local volunteers support quitters, publicize the event and press for laws that control the use of tobacco products.
Officials at the Lincoln County Health Department and Lincoln Medical Center support the national observance but say they promote the cause year-round.
Courtney Hilliard, community relations coordinator with LMC, said the American Cancer Society has echoed the same intent.
â€œThey would rather promote smoking cessation all year rather than one day,â€ she said.
Tackling the task does have to be taken one day at a time, said Taylor. Even failed attempts can lead to success.
â€œThe more times you start to quit the more likely you are to give them up at some point,â€ Taylor said.
Taylor said the average smoker quits seven times before actually giving up the habit.
Smoking is a nationwide problem but clearly affects a high number of people living in Lincoln County, said Maggie Dollar, director of the Lincoln County Health Department.
â€œLincoln Countyâ€™s rates of lung disease are higher than the state average in large part due to smoking and second hand smoke,â€ Dollar said.
The health department does not currently offer a program to help people quit smoking, but the challenge is still a top priority.
Belinda Branson, health educator with the health department, is currently working on an initiative to encourage Lincoln County restaurants to become smoke-free. Five restaurants in the county are currently smoke-free. Branson hopes this number will grow.
â€œWe want to promote the smoke-free restaurants and encourage others to do so,â€ she said. â€œSecond-hand smoke is just as dangerous as smoking yourself.â€
Staff members at LMC work to protect their patients â€” asking if they smoke and if they want to quit. Those looking to quit receive consultation and material to help them achieve their goal.
Taylor said watching people give up the struggle can be disheartening.
â€œI get very frustrated and angry that people put their health in such jeopardy,â€ she said. â€œAs a health care facility, we want to keep our patients well.â€
Anyone who would like assistance with quitting smoking can make an appointment by calling Mollie Taylor at 704-732-5542.
Assistance can also be offered by Now NC! (N.C. Division of Public Health â€” N.C. Prevention Partners). Counseling is available by phone, 877-44U-QUIT from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
On-line assistance is available at www.smokefree.gov.by Diane Turbyfill