SITKA — Every third Thursday in November, tobacco users are encouraged to set a date to quit or pledge to be smoke-free for 24 hours as a part of the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout. To promote this event in the region, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Tobacco Program will team up with local partners to offer a variety of events to help smokers quit tobacco.
The Great American Smokeout’s goal is to motivate smokers to quit using tobacco, while also raising awareness about effective quit techniques and programs. An estimated 46 million adults in the United States smoke and approximately half will die prematurely from smoking.
In Sitka, health educators from the Sitka Tobacco Quit Program and the Sitka School District “Kick It” Program will host an informational booth from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, at the AC/Lakeside grocery store. This booth will provide information about the tobacco cessation program, the dangers of secondhand smoke, and details about the Great American Smokeout. Former smokers are encouraged to tell their personal quitting-tobacco stories to Dan Etulain, who will air the interviews on his local television station.
The Sitka Tobacco Quit Program is open to all Sitka residents. This program is funded through collaboration between SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and Sitka Community Hospital. The program offers one year of quit coaching and three months of free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products, such as gum, lozenges and patches. According to the U.S. Public Health Service, tobacco users are six times more likely to quit with behavioral support and NRT products than when they try to quit “cold turkey.”
In Juneau, the SEARHC Tobacco Program is collaborating with the State of Alaska Division of Retirement and Benefits to host an informational booth during the week of Nov. 13-16 on the eighth floor of the State Office Building. SEARHC Health Educator Rowena Reeves will be at the event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, with former smoker Michael Patterson, to offer cold turkey sandwiches for those individuals quitting tobacco “cold turkey” for the day and to answer any questions. Julie Wilson from the Division of Retirement and Benefits, Carter Semple of Bartlett Regional Hospital and Edy Rodewald of SEARHC also will be available during lunches and breaks (10 a.m. and 3 p.m.) throughout the week to answer questions about the tobacco cessation program offered through the AlaskaCare Employee Health Plan for state employees.
In Klawock, the SEARHC Tobacco Program will host an informational display at the Alicia Roberts Medical Center with information about the Great American Smokeout.
The SEARHC Tobacco Program offers tobacco cessation and education services to tribal citizens throughout the region, with expanded services in Sitka. For more information about the Great American Smokeout and the Sitka Tobacco Quit Program, please call SEARHC Tobacco Policy Coordinator Amanda Roberts at 966-8745. To learn about the SEARHC Tobacco Program, contact Ramon Quevedo in Sitka at 966-8721, Rowena Reeves in Juneau at 364-4440, or Alexis Huot in Klawock at 755-4925. Another resource for support quitting tobacco is Alaska’s Tobacco Quit Program at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.