SITKA - The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Tobacco Program and Sitka Community Hospital will celebrate the 32nd Annual Great American Smokeout with a Great American Smokeout Fair from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 20, at the Harrigan Centennial Hall's Maksoutoff Room.
This event is open to all Sitka residents thinking about quitting tobacco, as well as the family and friends of smokers. The goal of the fair is to show tobacco users what resources exist to support them in their decision to quit. There will be information booths that can teach people how to replace smoking habits and manage cravings, so they can join the millions of others who have quit tobacco for good. There also will be support booths, door prizes, a tobacco trading post (where you turn in your tobacco for other items), free carbon monoxide readings and other information.
"This is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to quit smoking," SEARHC Tobacco Health Educator Amelia Mosher said. "There is more support available than ever before. You don't have to go through it alone. Going 'cold turkey' works about 2-5 percent of the time, but with the aid of nicotine replacement therapy and behavioral support, the chances of quitting for good are significantly better than doing it on your own."
The Great American Smokeout also marks the first anniversary of a partnership between the SEARHC Tobacco Program and Sitka Community Hospital, which allows the two health groups to share resources so they can offer tobacco cessation services to all Sitka residents.
The SEARHC-managed partnership with Sitka Community Hospital provides up to three months of free nicotine replacement therapy (patches, gum or lozenges) to help with withdrawal symptoms, and includes coaching by a trained SEARHC tobacco treatment specialist. Coaching and nicotine replacement therapy can improve the chance of successfully quitting tobacco. People wanting to use this service can call the program directly or they can be referred by their health care provider.
"Working with Sitka Community Hospital on this collaborative project has been great," said Andrea Thomas, SEARHC Tobacco Project Manager. "Broadening the scope of who we can serve in Sitka will help all people to quit the tough addiction of tobacco. I think the citizens of Sitka showed a lot of foresight in creating a tobacco tax to help fund Sitka Community Hospital and tobacco cessation services in the community."
The Great American Smokeout is a national event, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, that takes place on the third Thursday of November each year. The purpose of the Smokeout is to encourage smokers to quit for a day in the hope that they might be able to quit for good.
For more information and help quitting tobacco, call the SEARHC tobacco prevention program during regular business hours at 907-966-8721 or toll-free within Alaska at 888-966-8875. The Alaska Tobacco Quit Line also offers free support and nicotine replacement therapy. The Alaska Quit Line can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 888-842-QUIT (888-842-7848).