A presentation on smoking cessation may seem a little unusual for an employment training class. But, smoking can impact our clients in numerous ways in their quest to find employment and in their quest to move from assistance to independence. That is why I’m always delighted when our Wayne Township Board Chair Patricia Turner agrees to speak to our employment class about the importance of stopping smoking.
Ms. Turner speaks about smoking cessation through her affiliation with Quit Now Indiana and the Fort Wayne African American Cancer Alliance. She also is a certified instructor regarding smoking cessation. In her talk, Ms. Turner stresses the detrimental effects of smoking on both the smoker and the non-smoker who is exposed to second-hand smoke.
Smoking can be responsible for, or exacerbate, many health problems such as cancer, heart disease, emphysema, stroke, respiratory issues and asthma. However, a smoker’s health can recover after the smoker quits, Ms. Turner said. Only 48 hours after quitting a person’s blood pressure begins to lower, reducing the risk of a heart attack or a stroke.
Exposure to second-hand smoke is almost like smoking yourself, Ms. Turner told our class. Children raised in a household where someone smokes can have a higher incidence of ear infections, higher blood pressure, higher heart rate and other health problems. Tobacco smoke contains about 4,000 dangerous chemicals. It is not enough to just go outside to smoke as these chemicals can be carried into the house on a smoker’s clothing.
Ms. Turner spoke about the recent decision by the Fort Wayne Housing Authority to ban smoking in its housing units. Besides protecting the health of residents, the Housing Authority decision will reduce the cost of cleaning apartments when residents leave. Cleaning an apartment that has been inhabited by a smoker is much more expensive than cleaning the residence of a non-smoker.
Concerning job prospects, Ms. Turner explained that employers often screen out smokers. That is because the health care costs for smokers often are higher and smokers have more lost time from work due to illness and smoke breaks. When you are doing a job interview, it is difficult to hide that you are a smoker because of the smell on your clothing.
Something else for a smoker to consider is the cost of cigarettes. If you smoke a pack a day at six dollars a pack, you have wasted $42 a week. That adds up to over $2,000 a year and a whopping $43,000 if you smoke for 20 years.
Everyone who is or has been a smoker knows it is very difficult to quit. I know because I used to be a smoker and quit more than once before I finally was able to quit for good. Ms. Turner asked our clients who smoke to think about what it would take to make them quit. Are you willing, she asked, to make a significant commitment to your health? Are you willing to commit to protect your loved ones from second-hand smoke?
For those willing to make the commitment, she suggested that they call the Indiana Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). This is a free service. Callers will be provided with a trained “Quit Coach,” who will work with them to develop a “Quit Plan.”
The “Quit Plan” includes counseling sessions, a “Quit Kit,” and a referral to a smoking cessation program in our area. Some persons may be encouraged to contact a physician for medication. Good luck to our clients and everyone who wants to quit smoking. I know it can be done because I have done it myself.
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee