To help with this physical addiction, the program offers free or very low-cost nicotine replacement products such as patches, gums and lozenges. These products complement the behavioral goals of the program. They greatly enhance the program’s overall effectiveness and directly address both the addiction and the habit of smoking.
Tobacco use and addiction continue to be the leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than 440,000 Americans every year – causing one of every five/six deaths in the U.S. Many more millions die on a worldwide basis every year. Approximately 8.8 million people are hospitalized to treat a tobacco-related illness each year in the US.
Typically, WCHD staff request a $35 registration fee, but for those unable to pay, the fee can be waived. If a participant quits smoking by the end of the seven classes, their $35 can be returned to them, in essence making the classes totally free. A large number of the successful ‘quitters’ have asked that their fees be retained by WCHD to provide more classes and assist more people to quit smoking.
“More than 130 people in Winnebago County have participated in the program in 2010. More than two-thirds of them report being tobacco-free weeks and months after they have completed the program,” added Didier. He also noted the support and encouragement participants provide one another in the class, which seems to be a key to their success in quitting smoking. Didier also noted that “People involved in counseling or classes are twice as likely to quit as those who try to do it on their own. For persons using NRT products (or other medications prescribed by their physician) their chance of successfully quitting smoking doubles again.”
The financial support for this program comes from a grant received from the Illinois Department of Public Health, and supplemented by the Winnebago County Health Department.