Heartland Center Launches Smoking Cessation Program

Just in time for all of those New Year’s Resolutions, the Heartland Center for Behavioral Change is launching a smoking cessation program – at no cost to clients.

Vicki Boyd, Heartland Center’s director of practice improvement, is heading up the program after receiving training by the Mayo Clinic and the American Lung Association.

Heartland Center’s smoking cessation program will include eight group sessions with participants committing to quit smoking in week four. Participants will have the aid of smoking replacements, such as patches and gum, and may also take medication to quit smoking, if prescribed by a doctor. Smoking aids shall be available to clients served through funding by the Missouri Division of Behavioral Healthcare.

The program is scheduled to begin later this year. Locations and an exact date have not been determined.

According to Boyd, Heartland Center clients involved in other substance abuse treatment programs have expressed an interest in quitting smoking, along with recovering from other addictions.

“This program can be very good for their overall program participation and health,” says Boyd.

Cigarette smoking has been identified as the most important source of preventable morbidity (disease and illness) and premature mortality (death) worldwide, says the American Lung Association. Smoking-related diseases claim an estimated 443,000 American lives each year, including those affected indirectly, such as babies born prematurely due to prenatal maternal smoking and victims of “secondhand” exposure to tobacco’s carcinogens. Smoking cost the United States over $193 billion in 2004, including $97 billion in lost productivity and $96 billion in direct health care expenditures, or an average of $4,260 per adult smoker.

In Missouri alone, the statistics are equally as shocking. Nearly 10,000 Missourians die every year from tobacco-related illnesses, including lung cancer, heart disease and stroke, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. More than 1,100 additional deaths are caused by exposure to secondhand smoke every year.

Tobacco use also creates a significant economic burden in Missouri. Approximately $2 billion is spent every year in Missouri to treat smoking-related illnesses. Missouri has the ninth-highest smoking rate in the nation. Twenty five percent of adults and more than 18 percent of high school students in Missouri smoke.

Smoking rates are also high among pregnant women in Missouri. One of every six pregnant women smokes, a rate 64 percent higher than the national average. Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk for preterm delivery, stillbirth, low birth weight and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

More information about this program, including dates, locations and times, should be available in the coming weeks on the Heartland Center website.