Smokers can get a “Fresh Start” at St. Luke’s

Published 6:34 pm Thursday, January 18, 2018

COLUMBUS – Just in time to tackle that New Year’s resolution, St. Luke’s Hospital is offering a free smoking cessation class. The “Fresh Start” class is through the American Cancer Society, and will be held next Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to noon. 

Instructor Lisa West, registered respiratory therapist, said the class includes information about all the dangers of smoking, reasons to quit and ways to quit. It helps smokers find resources and follow up support as well. West said on the first day the class will discuss understanding nicotine dependence, addiction and the psychological reasons for smoking. Other topics throughout the week include the effects smoking has on the health of the smokers and others around them, ways to handle withdrawal symptoms and mastering obstacles.  

“We will help them [those attending the class] determine if nicotine replacement therapy is right for them and how to avoid a return to smoking,” West said. She added that many people don’t realize the benefits of not smoking start as soon as 20 minutes after the last cigarette.   

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“After 20 minutes your blood pressure drops, and the temperature of your hands and feet starts to increase,” she said. “Eight hours after that last cigarette, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops.” 

West continued listing the benefits of quitting smoking, which include reduction in the risk of stroke after five years of being cigarette free. After only ten years, lung cancer death is reduced as well as cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder kidney and pancreas. 

“In 15 years the risk of coronary heart disease is the same risk of non-smokers,” she said. 

West has worked as a registered respiratory therapist for 27 years and has been at St. Luke’s since 2004. She is certified as a clinician trainer on tobacco dependency through the American Association for Respiratory Care. West said she teaches the class because she believes in it and because it works. 

“I know it’s hard,” she said. “But the first step in quitting is wanting to.” 

For more information about the class call St. Luke’s Respiratory Department at 828-894-0847 or just show up at the hospital boardroom Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.