By Thea Skinner
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
By not asking for help to stop smoking tobacco, Airmen may create a missed opportunity at the doctor’s office.
The Peterson clinic, the Health and Wellness Center, and the base pharmacy are working together to provide dialogue and easy access to support through the Tobacco Cessation Program.
“After meeting with the provider you can get a refill (for tobacco cessation medication) within two days. It streamlines the process,” said Terri Fisher, 21st Aerospace Medicine Squadron, HAWC health education program manager overseeing the program.
A January 2009 Smokers’ Perceptions of Healthcare Providers American Legacy Foundation survey indicates that more than 1,000 habitual smokers may be missing opportunities to discuss smoking habits with health care providers.
According to the national survey, while 83 percent of smokers who want to quit within 30 days said they would feel comfortable asking for help, just 53 percent of this group actually asked their provider for quitting assistance.
The survey also showed disconnect between smokers’ perceptions regarding how their provider can assist them in quitting and their actual actions in starting a conversation.
The program involves a tobacco orientation and dialogue with the provider about medication required, a four-week Freshstart Tobacco Cessation Class, and a follow-up session with a pharmacist present to refill prescriptions. Attendees obtain a one month prescription at orientation and return to the follow-up appointment for a refill.
Four medication options, ranging from pills to nicotine patches, are available under the program. Some medication is free and valued at more than $100 per month.
“Statistically, we found that medication along with education intervention increases the quit rate,” said Tech. Sgt. Autumn Redline, 21st AMDS, HAWC diet therapist. “We wanted to make it more easily accessible for clients to come to our program and have the medication they need to quit.”
Based on Peterson quit rates, 25 out of 100 will succeed in quitting on medication alone, however, 44 percent of active duty personnel will stay quit with medication and a behavioral modification class, which is consistent with the statewide rate, Mrs. Fisher said.
“Only four out of 100 personnel will quit cold,” she said. “You cannot change things until you change the environment – some bases are tobacco free,” Mrs. Fisher said.
The HAWC holds a Stop Smoking Orientation Course the first Tuesday of each month and classes are open to anyone with or without TRICARE health insurance. For information visit www.coquitline.org or contact the HAWC at 556-4292.