Each year on the third Thursday of November, smokers across the country participate in the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, reducing or refraining from tobacco use on that day.
The Great American Smokeout is a great starting point, but people attempting to quit smoking know that cessation is a day-by-day, sometimes lifelong process.
The University of Iowa recognizes this, and offers several resources to help those who wish to quit smoking.
One person who took advantage of the resources is Shawn Harper, an environmental systems mechanic for Facilities Management. In April 2009, he approached the UI Wellness liveWELL program seeking support in his efforts to quit smoking. Harper, who had smoked off and on most of his life, took part in a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) study at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. A scan of his lungs came back with remarkably positive results; wanting to keep his health in good order, Harper seized this pivotal moment to kick the habit.
Harper worked with UI Wellness health coach JoAnn Miller to set a quit date and develop strategies that would help him change his habits and avoid smoking. He identified ways to stay active—this allowed him to decrease his urges to smoke while also striving to meet a goal of not gaining weight during the cessation process. He rode his bike, went for walks, and spent time outside doing yard work.
“JoAnn was a great help. She asked some tough questions in the beginning,” says Harper, who now is completely smoke-free. “I’m single and most of my family is scattered about the country; her support was invaluable. She had a plan and assisted me to implement it.
“If you want to quit smoking, working with a health coach is the way to go,” Harper adds. “UI Wellness is very accessible and provides a ton of resources.”
Harper met with his physician to seek a prescription for a nicotine replacement medication to support his commitment to quit smoking. Harper was reimbursed $300 for his prescription—one of the benefits of working with a health coach and the liveWELL program.
“We want to eliminate cost as a barrier to stopping smoking,” says UI Wellness coordinator Megan Moeller.
And while Harper identified the reimbursement as a nice bonus, he cited the fiscal benefits of not smoking and maintaining his health as equal motivation for staying smoke-free.
by Christopher Clair