Free Smoking Cessation Program Starts Next Week in Lowell

If you want to quit smoking but can’t handle one more guilt trip about your habit, Jodie Seese wants to talk to you. She is a nationally certified tobacco treatment specialist and the facilitator of a free program that will meet for six weeks starting on Tuesday, October 22. The program will run from 6-8pm at Metro Health Lowell at the corner of Bowes Road and W. Main St.

People already know why they should quit, Seese explains, and the Lowell program won’t use any fear or guilt tactics on participants. “There are no pictures of black lungs here,” she says. Instead, those who attend the sessions will be given tools to come up with their own individual quit plan.

This is the 12th year for the program, which is unique in that it is the only free privately-funded smoking cessation program offered in Kent County. It is supported by Lowell Community Wellness with funds from the Pink Arrow Project, and Metro Health provides free use of its facility as well. As a result, there is no cost for participants.

No Guilt, Fear or Shame

Smoking is an addiction that can be difficult to break, and many people may feel guilt or shame over their habit. Seese isn’t interested in piling on any more of those negative emotions. Instead, she wants people to know that the smoking cessation classes are supportive and confidential in nature.

“They should expect unconditional acceptance and support,” Seese says, “and that they will be allowed to move at their own speed to meet their goals.”

She recommends smokers bring someone along as a support person. Those who aren’t smokers but know someone who is are also invited to attend. Children can accompany their parents so there is no need to find childcare to participate.

The program will start with a presentation to set the stage for the upcoming weeks, and then each session will focus on creating individual quit plans and gaining the support needed to put them into action. There are also opportunities for discussion although Seese stresses no one is required to talk or share. In between classes, people are asked to track how and when they smoke to help them determine the best way to quit the habit.

Although the program originated to help people quit smoking, this year will also include vaping health information.

“Exceptionally High” Success Rate

More than 220 people have participated in the Lowell smoking cessation program, and Seese checks in on their progress 12 months after completion. She is hesitant to say how many people successfully quit because the percentage is so much higher than the national average that it can almost seem unbelievable. So while Seese doesn’t want to share a number, she will say that an “exceptionally high” percentage of people are smoke-free thanks to the program.

That success is due in part to the program’s approach to smoking cessation. Seese uses an evidence-based curriculum developed by the Mayo Clinic. What’s more, the supportive environment found in Lowell helps bolster people’s success.

“We don’t pretend this is an easy task,” Seese says. It can be more manageable with the right tools and a strong support system though, and that’s exactly what the Lowell smoking cessation program seeks to offer.

October is the perfect time to begin a class, according to Seese. Many people wait until New Year’s Day to resolve to quit, but starting now can position people for success when the calendar turns to January. Plus, a smoking cessation class can help people manage emotions in a healthy way during the holiday season, which can be a stressful time for some people.

Registration for the classes is encouraged but not required. For more information or to register, call or text Seese at 616-446-7058.

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