Quit the Smoke – No Joke!
Fred Yingling, RPh, MBA, Health System Director of Pharmacy Services and Michael Johnson, PharmD, Ambulatory Pharmacy Director are two hard working Adena pharmacists. They’ve both been with Adena for nearly ten years, of which, almost six of those years have been dedicated to creating and overseeing Adena’s Smoking Cessation program. The program initially started at the request of a local company looking to improve their employees’ health by helping them to quit smoking. The program was such a success that Adena Health System offered it to their own employees, and now it is available to anyone who wants to quit smoking.
The “Why” in Try
Cigarette smoking is the number one cause of preventable disease and death worldwide, according to the American Lung Association. It claims over 443,000 American lives each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Ross County, Ohio, has a significantly higher rate of lung cancer (94.7) compared to the state of Ohio (69.3) and the U.S. (54.6). Ross County also has considerably higher death rates due to cancer (196.2) than state (176.2) and national (159.4) levels, of which, the leading occurrence is lung cancer. In addition to the high death rate due to lung cancer, Ross County has higher than state and national rates of heart disease, stroke and chronic lower respiratory diseases*. These are all conditions that can be brought on or have an increased risk from smoking.
To lead by example and create a healthy environment for our patients, visitors, employees and volunteers, Adena Health System follows a 100% smoke- and tobacco-free policy at all its facilities. This policy applies to all visitors, patients and employees on all areas of Adena properties including green spaces and parking lots. The Adena tobacco-free policy sets a positive example for community members and helps those wanting to quit know they have a safe and healing environment at Adena.
“We show smokers there are immediate and long-term health benefits to quitting,” says Michael Johnson. Some of the immediate benefits are improved taste and smell, improved breath, less yellowing of teeth, fingers and fingernails, and less being “winded” by daily activities such as walking or climbing stairs. Healthwise, smokers who quit, experience:
- After 20 minutes: drop in heart rate and blood pressure
- After 12 hours: the carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal
- In 2 weeks to 3 months: improved circulation and lung function
- In 1 to 9 months: reduction of coughing and shortness of breath
- After 1 year: risk of coronary heart disease reduced to half that of a nonsmoker
- After 5 years: risk of mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder cancer cut in half; stroke risk can fall to that of a nonsmoker after 2-5 years
- After 10 years: risk of dying from lung cancer reduced to half
- After 15 years: risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker
In addition to better health, smokers who quit can also realize some significant cost savings by not purchasing cigarettes or other tobacco products. Michael and Fred have detailed cost saving scenarios showing patients they can save thousands of dollars a year by quitting.
The “It” in Quit
Tobacco, like other addictive substances, is not easy to quit which is why Adena is here to help. Studies show cessation programs that combine counseling and medications significantly increases a participant’s success rate. “We typically use nicotine replacement or drug therapy to help patients reach their goal of quitting,” explains Fred Yingling, “And we are often able to help supply patients with initial over-the-counter medications.”
At Adena, the Quit Clinic helps patients take the appropriate interventions based on their willingness to quit. “We work with patients to determine their best cessation pathway,” says Yingling, “Each person requires an individual approach. We use the five A’s: Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, and Arrange, to guide our patients through their tailored cessation program.”
The Adena Quit Clinic is a 12 week, in-person (or via online) clinic, designed to help people quit smoking. Program participants have a scheduled visit every two weeks in order to discuss and assess their challenges and progress. During a patient’s first visit, an Adena Quit Clinic pharmacist works to evaluate the participant’s tobacco habit and develop a cessation plan that is achievable. They help patients find the right tools to enable success, including over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies and/or prescription drugs depending on the patients’ needs. The Adena Quit Clinic operates out of the Adena Chillicothe Rehab & Wellness location and from the Adena Medical Centers in Jackson, Waverly and Greenfield.
The How is Now
“We partner with patients through each step of the program to help them reach their goal of quitting,” says Johnson. Part of the program entails identifying “triggers” that entice smokers to light up. Sometimes, just the habit of lifting a cigarette to mouth just needs to be broken. “We talk to patients about their triggers and work to find healthy replacement options, such as taking a walk when they crave a smoke or drinking a glass of water.”
Quitting is hard. The Adena Quit Clinic pharmacists know how to help smokers use a variety of means to get them through the difficult times. “We often tell patients to let all their friends and family know they are quitting,” says Yingling, “this keeps them accountable to themselves and helps others be supportive.” Other tips include setting a quit date, knowing that a craving lasts six minutes to try and avert lighting up with another activity and realizing that the first 72 hours will be the most difficult. Patients may also experience restlessness, frustration, anger and difficulty concentrating along with other temporary withdrawal symptoms. But each day without smoking is a step in the right direction.
If you or a friend or family member want to quit smoking, talk to your Primary Care Provider for a referral or call the Adena Quit Clinic program at 740-779-8745. The experienced program pharmacists can provide smokers with the resources, tools and confidence to quit smoking, for good.
* Adena Health System. Ross County Community Health Needs Assessment. Chillicothe, OH: Adena Health System, 2019. https://www.adena.org/files/resources/ross-county-chna-2019-final.pdf.