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Options abound for quitting smoking

By: John Boldrick

Courtesy of the Hastings Health Source



(2/5/2013) Jordan Boomhour exhales a puff of a cigarette. Boomhour has been smoking on and off since the age of eight. Photo by John Boldrick.

Jordan Boomhour can’t believe his first cigarette was over a decade ago.

The 21 year-old had his first smoke at age eight. He didn’t start smoking more frequently until he was 12. His reason for starting is one that has been said before.

“I did the same thing as most people, they’re like ‘oh well it’s cool, everyone’s doing it’ so (I) just kind of went along with the crowd,” he said.

The first few years were tough. His parents didn’t know of his habit, so no smoking at home. He had to travel, although not far, for his fix.

“I don’t know how I didn’t get caught sooner just because of the fact that I wouldn’t really leave the place, I’d just go over to my friends place, we lived in a complex, and we would just hang out outside all the time,” he said.

The regularity hadn’t started yet. Eventually, as he grew, so did his habit. Now, he’s had enough with his addiction.

Boomhour doesn’t use quitting aids. He’s never worn a patch and only ever had one piece of nicotine gum. He prefers the cold turkey method. If he ever wants to get outside help, it is available.

The Hastings and Prince Edward county health unit offers several programs aimed at helping people, like Boomhour, to quit smoking.

Their main program involves “We Can Quit” clinics. They run every Wednesday morning in Belleville and Thursdays in Trenton. The clinics involve one on one counseling with healthcare professionals. Participants will set up a quit plan and receive nicotine replacement therapy (gum or patches) when they leave. The cost is $5 a session.

The clinics started in Belleville in 2010. It expanded to Trenton 18 months ago. The expansion was due to the success of the original. The health unit averages about 30 people a week to their Belleville location.  The Trenton portion sees about 20.

“Our overall goal was to try to reach multiple municipalities where we could offer the programs,” said Jordan Prosper, a health promoter for the health unit, “This is well more than we ever anticipated or planned so we expanded over to Trenton.”

Professionals work closely with those who want to quit. They create individuals plans. While a method may work for one person, it won’t work for everyone.

“There’s no set formula to help people quit smoking. Everybody’s different. Everybody’s dependency on nicotine or cigarettes or their priorities for quitting are different,” said Prosper.

One way people are starting to kick the habit is e-cigarettes. The electronic smokes use water vapour to simulate the act of smoking. Boomhour has never used the product. While he sees potential, they are out of his price range.

The health unit isn’t against their use. That doesn’t mean they give them out either. The products aren’t regulated by Health Canada.

“People use them that we see in the clinic. We never steer people away from using them because there’s not a lot of research to show if they are effective (or) not effective,” said Prosper.”

When it comes to success, We Can Quit has a pretty good record. On their last visit, 50 per cent of users were smoke free. Six months later, the number was 30 per cent. The national success rate for stop smoking programs is around 12 per cent.

Prosper said the numbers are very good. He said that there are ways to grow the chances of success.

“When people try to quit together, their success rate literally doubles so we always encourage if you have a family member or a friend that wants to come in and give it a shot too or just be that social support, we always encourage that,” he said.

Boomhour’s journey isn’t over.  He smokes seven to 10 cigarettes a day. He has a ways to go, but has motivation. He doesn’t want his kids to pick up what he hopes to leave behind.

“If I’m not smoking when they’re older, when they actually catch on to that kind of stuff then there’s really no worry,” he said.