Smoking increases the risk of lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, other woes, not to mention expensive: A $6 pack of cigarettes a day adds up to $2,191.44 a year.
But nicotine is largely recognized as an addictive substance, making quitting smoking or using snuff, chewing tobacco a tough row to hoe.
Now, help is here. St. Luke's Hospital and Health Network's free smoking cessation program is now available at St. Luke's Urgent Care in Jim Thorpe. The sessions begin Tuesday. To sign up for the program, call smoking cessation counselor Coral Johnson at (484) 526-2120.
No doctor's referral is needed, but folks do have to register for an appointment.
The counseling, materials and medications are provided free if a smoker's insurance does not cover them.
The sessions are offered at the Urgent Care from 8:30-11:30 a.m. Tuesdays.
The program is already in place at the hospital in Bethlehem and at St. Luke's Nesquehoning location. Hours at Nesquehoning are from 1-4:30 p.m. Tuesdays.
The Nesquehoning program opened in November.
"Since then, people were referring their friends," Johnson said.
St. Luke's opened the Jim Thorpe program so people would not have to travel.
The program is low-key and tailored to each person, Johnson said.
"We start by getting to know the patient, and getting a history of their smoking habit, and helping them develop a quit plan that's individualized for them," she said. "So, they are very interactive in the process of quitting. We're not telling them what to do or nagging them."
Through the program, patients receive information on nicotine replacement therapy, ways to cope with stress and nicotine cravings, techniques to use to help prevent relapse, and, as part of the individual counseling program, receive regular follow-up telephone counseling for one year to keep track of their progress and support their continued success.
Medications are also provided, if needed.