I know how hard it is to quit smoking because I have been there. I quit smoking more than once before I finally was able to quit for good several years ago. Many of our clients at Wayne Township still smoke, and I can understand why. Our clients often are under a great deal of pressure when they are struggling to keep from losing their homes and to keep their utilities from being shut off. Smoking may help relieve their stress.
At Wayne Township, we try to take a broad approach to helping our clients–an approach that involves much more than just providing financial assistance. That is why I invited Pat Turner to speak to our weekly employment training class about the issue of smoking. Ms. Turner is one of our Wayne Township Board members and speaks about smoking cessation through her affiliation with Indiana’s Tobacco Quitline and the Fort Wayne African American Cancer Alliance.
Did you know that Indiana has the second highest rate of adult smoking in the nation behind only West Virginia? Almost one-fourth of adults in Indiana still smoke. Smoking is increasingly being recognized as the predominant single cause of preventable chronic disease and death.
Ms. Turner told our clients that smoking puts both the smoker and the nonsmoker at risk. She emphasized in her presentation the dangers of secondhand smoke, especially for children living with a smoker and for employees who work where smoking is allowed. Breathing secondhand smoke can be equivalent to smoking yourself, according to Ms. Turner. Opening windows or using fans will not stop secondhand smoke exposure, she said.
Ms. Turner also spoke about the financial cost of smoking, a subject of great concern to Wayne Township and to our assistance clients. If you pay $5 for a pack of cigarettes and smoke a pack a day, that can add up to $150 a month and almost $2,000 a year. This is money that could be going toward providing for yourself and/or your family.
We at the Wayne Township Trustee’s Office work hard to help our clients find employment. Something many of us don’t consider is that smokers may have a more difficult time getting jobs than non-smokers. Employers could be reluctant to hire smokers because of down-time for them to go outside to smoke and because of increased illness and higher insurance rates for those who smoke.
So, what can we do to help our clients, as well as our friends, co-workers and loved ones to stop smoking? For our clients who want to stop smoking, Ms. Turner gave them information about the Indiana Tobacco Quitline. They or anyone else living in Indiana can call the Quitline, a free service, at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
Callers will be provided with a trained “Quit Coach,” who will work with them to develop a “Quit Plan.” The “Quit Plan” will include counseling sessions and a “Quit Kit.” Those participating will be referred to stop smoking programs in our area and some may be encouraged to contact a physician for stop smoking medication.
Ms. Turner also urged everyone to support the statewide smoking ban legislation, which already has passed the Indiana House of Representatives and is pending in the Senate. Wayne Township residents sometimes don’t think about the importance of a state-wide smoking ban since we already have a smoking ban in Fort Wayne and Allen County. But, go to a business in an area where there is no ban, and you will immediately notice the smoke and understand the dangers of secondhand smoke.
Good luck to our clients and everyone who wants to quit smoking. I know it is possible to quit since I have done it myself.
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee
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