According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. With around 800 Vermonters dying from tobacco-related diseases each year, the Vermont Department of Health recently launched a campaign to lower the state’s preventable deaths by introducing tobacco users to the Vermont Quit Partners — a support and resource network for those looking to quit.
As part of the campaign, five prevention coalitions in Chittenden County will be distributing materials and organizing activities to connect smokers in their communities to area Quit Partners. Essex CHIPS is one such coalition, along with The Burlington Partnership for a Healthy Community, Milton Community Youth Coalition, Winooski Coalition for a Safe and Peaceful Community and Connecting Youth in Chittenden.
“We see the prevention and treatment of smoking as a community responsibility,” said Matt Whalen, Community Wellness Coordinator at Essex CHIPS. “The Surgeon General’s report is clear that there is no safe level of smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. The negative health impacts affect us all and we all need to make an effort to support smokers to quit and to limit secondhand smoke exposure to others.”
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that 55 percent of the 95,000 Vermont smokers attempted to quit in 2011. However, many attempted to quit without using evidence-based cessation treatments.
The Vermont Quit Partners offers proven treatments, such as group cessation classes and free nicotine replacement therapy, as well as other various quitting tools, such as distraction putty and key puzzles to relieve stress and occupy hands.
Essex CHIPS will be advocating for the Vermont Quit Partners in a variety of ways over the coming months.
“We will be networking with local bars, restaurants and businesses to spread the word about what Quit Partners is offering,” Whalen explained. “We will also be using our social media networks to reach as many people as possible.”
While Essex CHIPS doesn’t currently have any tobacco cessation awareness events scheduled, Whalen plans to incorporate information about Vermont Quit Partners into unrelated outreach activities.
Editor’s note: For more information or to find a local Quit Partner, visit www.VTQuitNetwork.org.