Monday, August 24, 2009

Pennsylvania and New Jersey: Winning By Quitting

Published on August 17, 2009 in THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER.

Smokers have more options than ever in the fight to kick the habit.

By Heather J. Chin
Inquirer Staff Writer

Nina Ball regularly walks by a row of smokers outside the charter school in North Philadelphia where she helps youths find jobs and get into college. A year ago, she might have bummed a cigarette there.

But today, after a series of group counseling and fitness sessions at a local health clinic, she hopes she has replaced her addiction to nicotine with another obsession: a drive to write and perform poetry.

"When I'm keeping busy with things I love, I feel less of a need to smoke," said Ball, who ditched her Marlboro Menthol 100s 10 months ago.

As Ball learned, the methods to stop smoking are growing. A few programs offer group counseling and fitness together - to counter fears of weight gain and encourage overall health - along with nicotine replacement products and drugs. Most sessions are free, courtesy of the money that tobacco firms pay yearly to states to cover smokers' health-related costs.

Insurers also may cover some prescription drugs for those enrolled in a state-sponsored cessation program.

Hospitals, in addition, are pushing smoking cessation to their patients. Studies suggest that they are likelier to quit when the health risks are high.

Each year about 443,000 people die from smoking nationwide, including about 20,000 Pennsylvanians and 11,000 New Jersey residents.

Read the rest of the article here.

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