PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN A CURE
For those who may be struggling to keep their Smoke Free New Year’s Resolution, there is help. The community of Lowell provides yet one more amazing opportunity for you to reach your goal of becoming smoke free. TFFG (Tobacco Free For Good), is an evidenced-based smoking cessation program assisting in what is one of the most difficult challenges many face today: Ending their smoking addiction for good.
Smoking or smoking related deaths in the United States per year has reached a staggering 480,000, many of which are from second hand smoke. This is an astonishing number and reason for concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of Americans currently living with smoking related diseases has reached 16 million.
However, smoking related disease can be prevented. The CDC states smoking-related diseases are the number one preventable causes of death within the United States, and yet hundreds of thousands die each year. Lowell doesn’t have to be lumped into that statistic. As a community, with partners like TFFG, progress can be made towards a more healthful lifestyle.
Smoking doesn’t just take a toll on your health, it can damage your finances as well. The average American smoker spends between $2,000 to $6,000 per year just on cigarettes alone. But what about the financial health related costs? The American Cancer Society has stated the true cost of smoking in health care related costs is approximately 6 times the amount paid originally for the cigarettes you smoke. Loss of work also contributes to the financial cost of smoking for employees as well as their employer’s.
Smoking cessation is a challenge, but there is help and it’s free. The TFFG program has assisted over 220 clients since it started in 2007. The project has been funded by Pink Arrow Pride Project for the past 8 years through its Community Education and Prevention Program, and is headed by a Certified Facilitator for the Mayo Clinic, Jodie Seese. This makes it the only privately funded smoking cessation program in Michigan. And it’s right here in Lowell.
COMMUNITY AT ITS BEST
Lowell’s First Look spoke to Jodie Seese and asked what drew her to this program, “The spirit of Lowell’s generosity, of helping each other”, she explained. Jodie enjoys hearing from those who have completed the program and has stayed in touch with many of the graduates. She noted that many were able to stay smoke free, and some even stated that they had also been able to lose weight along the way.
The classes are small, and personal. Often those who are able to remain smoke free, come back to the classes to assist others. They find that helping others can be extremely gratifying. They admit that getting to the first class is a difficult step. Once there, the realization that you will not be guilted into quitting, or shown horrid pictures becomes apparent.
The State of Michigan also offers a Tobacco Free Hotline, where a person attempting to overcome their addiction can call up to 5 times free. This program is paid for by a grant from the Michigan Department of Community Health. What it doesn’t offer however, is the person to person experience where a connection is made directly with your coach that is there for you, and will stay in contact with you long after your smoke free goal is achieved.
TFFG is about empowering people to learn the process of quitting, helping them to develop a personal plan to navigate what is a very complex problem. Participants are tasked with writing their own personalized “Quit Plan”. Focus is placed on learning to problem solve in your unique situation.
TAKE THE NEXT STEP
There are no advertisements for the TFFG classes. These classes have been filled throughout the years by word of mouth only with each class guiding 8 – 10 participants at a time. Graduates come back year after year for a holiday gathering to encourage others by sharing their personal stories of success.
The next class being held for “Tobacco Free For Good” will begin Tuesday, February 21st at Lowell Family Medical Center. The classes meet from 6-8pm and will meet for six consecutive weeks. For those who would like to include their support network, please feel free to bring a family member or friend. For more information on registering for this life changing class or to donate, please call 616-446-7058.