Letter: This holiday season, help friends, family quit smoking

Help smokers quit this holiday season

To the editor:

This Thanksgiving season, I'd like to remind readers to thank a co-worker, friend or family member who has quit smoking.

Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death and disease in Massachusetts. Nicotine is a very addictive drug and, on average, it takes a smoker several tries to quit for good. So reach out to smokers or ex-smokers. Let them know you are proud of how hard they're working to better their well-being. Thank them for improving their health and the health of the people around them.

Even though the holidays can be a tough time to quit, they are a great time to get support from your loved ones to help you try to quit. If you have tried in the past, don't give up. Instead, take advantage of the many resources available in Massachusetts to help you reach your goal.

Smokers can call the Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) to talk with a free quit coach. The Helpline now offers expanded hours and is open for calls from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. seven days a week (excluding holidays). By talking with a quit coach at 1-800-QUIT-NOW, smokers can also receive a four-week supply of free nicotine patches.

Health insurance may cover the cost of medicines and coaching to help smokers quit — MassHealth does. With MassHealth and many other insurance companies, FDA-approved quit smoking medications are available with little or no co-pay.

Smokers who get support and use stop-smoking medicines are nearly three times as likely to quit for good as those who try to quit on their own. Quitting is hard — give thanks to a smoker in your life for quitting or for attempting to quit. Every email, text message, phone call, or encouraging word makes a difference.

E. Rolison, Pittsfield The writer is contract manager, Berkshire Tobacco-Free Community Partnership.


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