Francine Sorenson, who recently quit smoking, was 13 when she lit up her first cigarette.
“The toughest part (about quitting) is getting in my car and not lighting up a cigarette,” Sorenson said. “I used to light up a cigarette every time I started my car.”
Sorenson, who had been a lifelong smoker, quit on Nov. 28 of last year. She uses the smoking aid Champix to avoid lighting up another cigarette.
“It’s getting easier ... I breathe better,” she said, noting that she also feels far more energetic, especially while at work.
Sorenson’s story is not uncommon in Saskatchewan. According to Dr. Mark Vooght, medical health officer for Five Hills Health Region (FHHR), 24 per cent of adults and 22 per cent of youth smoke.
“Smoking affects a significant proportion of our population,” he said. “We know it’s a significant addiction.”
“The best thing people can do if they’re only going to do one thing for their health is to quit smoking or not begin at all. That’s the number one thing they can do for their health, because of smoking’s myriad adverse effects,” Vooght noted.
This is why organizations such as FHHR are working to promote National Non-Smoking Week, a country-wide endeavour to promote awareness and encourage smoking cessation.
In Moose Jaw, Vooght said, there exists “a process where people can approach organizations about what they can do to stop smoking” called the Partnership to Assist with the Cessation of Tobacco (PACT).
“(PACT) is a group of pharmacists, and what they do is they are able to counsel people and recommend treatments for cessation,” said Vooght. “For example, they can recommend nicotine therapy, and if the individual needs more than that, the PACT pharmacist can work as a team with their physician and more drugs can be prescribed.”
For many, Vooght said, quitting is a considerable challenge, which is why assistance can be so vital to a smoker’s success at butting out.
“The thing is not to become despondent if you’ve tried to stop and failed. Because it’s such a strong addiction, we’ve found a lot of people are not 100 per cent successful the first time around, and it sometimes takes a couple of times to quit,” he said. “That’s why we have supports such as the PACT pharmacies to help us on that journey.”
For more on this story, see tomorrow's Times-Herald.