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Indiana ranks fifth-highest in the nation for tobacco use, but the IU Health West Central Region is working to change that. Using a $12,600 grant from IU Health Foundation, IU Health Arnett, IU Health White Memorial and IU Health Frankfort hospitals have launched a smoking cessation program that gives area residents their best chance to quit—for good. The free program provides in-person and virtual classes, nicotine replacement therapies, and a support system that helps participants overcome their addiction.
Tori Ramsey, BA, RRT, a respiratory therapist and member of the population health team, is leading the program at IU Health Arnett and secured the grant. She says making the eight-week program free to anyone in the community is a huge step toward success. Studies show that smokers who attempt to quit on their own have a 95% failure rate, but those who take advantage of counseling and group resources increase their chances of success by 40% to 80%.
Ramsey knows this program wouldn’t be possible without the power of philanthropy. The grant enabled her to become certified as a tobacco treatment specialist, joining two others in the region. The grant also provides free nicotine replacement therapies to people in the program. “A lot of our participants are unable to get that on their own,” Ramsey said. “It isn’t typically covered by insurance, and this helps them greatly.”
The program was just gaining steam when COVID-19 hit, bringing in-person classes to an abrupt halt. Ramsey says her team quickly shifted gears and began meeting with participants over the phone. In July, they launched a fully virtual program that allows participants to reap the benefits of group sessions while staying safely at home. Virtual support is an especially important option for tobacco users, who are at greater risk from the coronavirus.
She hopes tobacco users will reach out even if they don’t think they’re ready to quit. “It is a process for a lot of people,” she said. “You may only want the information, but wait to begin the program a couple months from now. That’s okay. A lot of people want to quit; they just don’t know how to get started.”
To register for the eight-week tobacco cessation course, contact Tori Ramsey at 765.838.7758 or email@example.com. To learn how you can support programs to keep all Hoosiers healthier, visit IU Health Foundation.