Amy Pritchett, RN and Health Coach at Deaconess Clinic West
Quitting smoking can be incredibly challenging. Some past smokers say that quitting was one of the hardest things they’ve ever done, but also one of the things they’re most proud of doing. Deaconess now offers a new tool in the challenge to quit smoking. Breath of Fresh Air (BFA) is an online smoking cessation program filled with tips, encouragements and great information.
I work as a nurse coach at Deaconess Clinic West, in the family practice area. Much of my job is to help our patients become healthier. I find this to be incredibly fulfilling. One of the best ways for someone to improve their health is to avoid nicotine/tobacco. That means not to start, and if you have started, to do what you can to quit. Quitting is hard! Nicotine is highly addictive, and it takes resolve and motivation to stop.
Because I’ve seen how much a person’s health can be improved by quitting, I was pleased to serve on the committee here at Deaconess that developed BFA. We developed this program ourselves. The committee was made up of nurse coaches, pharmacists, physician practice managers, and other clinical experts.
About Breath of Fresh Air (BFA) and How to Join
BFA is an interactive, online smoking cessation program and support group that can truly help people quit smoking. It offers lots of health tips, encouragement, and is an ongoing program.
The first step is registering for the program at www.deaconess.com/breath
. You’ll be asked to select a “quit date.” This can be any time of your choosing, but I often recommend about a six-week span of time for gradual decrease in smoking. Some people find that a “date of significance” coming up (such as a birthday, anniversary, etc.) can be motivating. Once you sign up, you begin to receive a series of emails that help you along your quitting journey.
Customized Emails During Your Process
The custom emails are a special feature of BFA. They’re spaced out based upon your quit date, and are full of helpful tools. One example is the “printable certificates.” You can print out a form to hang on your office door or cubicle wall that asks people to be patient with you—you’re quitting smoking!
The emails encourage you with reminders about health benefits, such as how your heart attack risk is dropping each day or financial benefits—how much you’ve saved by not smoking. Imagine receiving electronic pep talks just at the times you need them most!
Quit Strategy Questionnaire
Through the program, you can also complete a “quit strategy” questionnaire. In it, there is a list of common triggers for smoking, such as drinking a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, feeling stressed, or being with other friends/family who smoke. You can select various tools to use to help you get past the moment and craving. That list is emailed to you, and you can print and post it in as many places as you need to.
Smoking Cessation Resources
The program/page also lists various other smoking cessation resources. Some are programs that offer nicotine substitution; others are organized, in-person classes offered by area health departments.
There is also a page with extensive links to various health-related organizations with smoking cessation information and guidance. You can learn more about e-cigarettes, for example, or get even more quitting tips.
Who Benefits Most From This Program?
That’s a question we asked ourselves frequently while developing BFA. We have found that many people who want to quit smoking aren’t able to attend in-person classes. And many people don’t want to! They consider their smoking cessation journey to be a private challenge that they only want to share with family and friends.
This program is available to anyone. You do NOT have to be a Deaconess Clinic patient to fully participate. If you are a Deaconess Clinic patient, your nurse coach will be able to encourage you even more and can interact with you through the program.
Anyone who smokes can benefit from BFA. Whether someone has smoked for five years or 50, there is always a benefit to quitting.
Facts about Quitting Smoking
• Eight hours after a person’s last cigarette, their levels of oxygen in the blood go back to normal. (While smoking, oxygen had been displaced by carbon monoxide.)
• Two days (48 hours) after a person’s last cigarette, their damaged nerve endings start to regrow, and the ability to smell and taste improves.
• Anywhere from two weeks to three months after quitting, lung function can improve up to 30%. That means more energy and stamina for keeping up with kids or grandkids, or simply making the most of everyday life.
• By one year after quitting, the risk for heart disease has been cut in half compared to when the person was still smoking.