LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A nonprofit whose aim is to keep the youth of the Lufkin community drug free is taking its goal a step further by teaming up with a prominent hospital to offer classes and guidance to help smokers kick the habit.
The Coalition has partnered with CHI St. Luke’s Health Memorial to offer a cessation program aimed at helping smokers quit.
“Nicotine is just such a powerful chemical that causes changes in the brain, so that’s one part of it," said Sharon Kruk, executive director of The Coalition. “The other part of it is that smoking is a habit that is built into peoples’ lives. People automatically reach for that tobacco product when they wake up in the morning.”
Sarah Hildebrand completed a similar program held by The Coalition in 2018.
“It was a wonderful experience. I had someone suggest it to me and I went and participated in it, and it was great,” said Hildebrand.
The program focuses on educating smokers about the effects smoking has on their bodies and those around them, the benefits of quitting, and provides a group setting for smokers to find support. Kruk said each lesson was designed to build from the previous one, so by the end of the month-long program, smokers had the motivation to quit.
“I’ve been a smoker for 15 years... and that’s the main part of it - habit, pure habit breaking,” said Hildebrand. “And that’s what they teach you there, how to get out of that habit. And they offer different online help and things you can do - services - to help you break that habit.”
The tobacco cessation program was funded thanks in part by a Tobacco Cessation and Prevention grant provided by the state of Texas. The activities which were selected by organizers aren’t just targeted at helping smokers quit the habit; they also hope to keep young men and women from picking up tobacco-related products in the first place.
“We know nicotine and tobacco addiction is the hardest addiction to break,” said Kruk. “On average, it takes the average adult smoker 7 to 9 quit attempts before they ever actually quit. This might just be a quit attempt for somebody who’s coming to the class, or it might actually be the time they quit and quit for good. So, we want to be able to provide that support and allow the participants the chance to have a healthier life.”
The tobacco cessation program is free, and begins Monday, April 8 at The Coalition, and runs through the end of April. The nonprofit is currently accepting attendees.