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What's Happening in Health Care?

What is the death toll in Vermont from Tobacco related diseases?

It is a staggering 800 Vermonters each year!  Tobacco use continues to be the number one cause of preventable death in the United States.  Quitting tobacco use is a wonderful New Year’s resolution – one that could just save your life.  The best news is there is a lot of free, effective help and support available to anyone interested in improving their health by quitting tobacco use.

The Vermont Department of Health recently launched “802Quits” which provides support, tips, tools, and free patches, gum & lozenges to help you quit tobacco use.  As different strategies work for different people, “802Quits” offers variety of ways to get help:

  • Quit Help by Phone provides free, personalized support to people who call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
  • In-person Quit Help is available through the Vermont Quit Partners, a team of people in communities across the state devoted to providing support and motivation throughout the quitting process.
  • Online Quit Help delivers online support from a community of experts and former smokers. 802quit.org
  • Quit Your Way provides tips, tools, and advice to help Vermonters quit on their own.

One of the offerings through 802Quits that caught my eye was “Quit for Your Baby,” a special program for pregnant women.  While any time is a good time to quit smoking, it is particularly important to quit when you are pregnant because of the harm tobacco use can do to the developing baby prenatally and into childhood.  The program description says “Join the free phone program designed just for pregnant women. Get a cash gift card after each call from a trained health coach who knows what kind of support you need to quit tobacco. To sign up, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW and ask about this program.”  If you are pregnant and smoke, please make that call.  Your baby will be healthier because of it, and so will you. 

Here in our community, Chari Anderson, RN of NMC’s Lifestyle Medicine Department, is a local resource for those who want to quit smoking or using other tobacco products.  You can reach Chari at 524-8480.  Chari provides both one-on-one cessation counseling and support as well as a group approach through the Fresh Start program in our community.  Free nicotine replacement is available to participants in both the one-on-one and group approaches. 

800 preventable Vermont deaths a year?  That’s nearly the entire population of North Hero, killed each year by tobacco related illnesses right here in Vermont.  It is within our power to prevent that.  The Franklin Grand Isle Tobacco Prevention Coalition is working with local partners, municipalities and retailers to de-emphasize the retail sales and promotion of cigarettes.  Our thanks go out to Burton Island Bistro, Hometown Beverage, Sheldon Mini-Mart, Devyn’s and the Jolley on North Main St. in St. Albans for getting on board with that effort.  I’m so impressed with Enosburg Falls and St. Albans City who have adopted policies to keep their parks smoke free.  Swanton posted signs in all of their recreation areas asking people to refrain from smoking there.  I am very hopeful that our Legislature will approve an increase in the tobacco tax, as that is an evidence-based strategy which has proven its effectiveness repeatedly: increased costs drive cessation.  By providing support to those who want to quit, by working together as a community to move towards being smoke-free, and by being willing to take a stand on the tobacco tax, we can make a real difference in the health of every Vermonter.  Think of the cost of medical care involved in the treatment of diseases which lead to 800 preventable deaths within Vermont each year.  Eliminating tobacco use is a huge priority for Vermont.  Together, we can do it.  If you need help quitting, please visit 802Quits.org, call 1-800-QUITNOW or call Chari in NMC’s Lifestyle Medicine Department at 524-8480. 

Together let’s make informed lifestyle choices for a happy and healthier New Year!

-- Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer