Cary – ACAP Team Up for Smoking Cessation with virtual program

3 years ago

Cary Medical Center and the Aroostook County Action Program are teaming up to launch a virtual smoking cessation program called, “Fresh Start.” The weekly four-part series will begin in March, online, on a day and time based on the preference of those who register for the classes.

Freshstart is an evidence based program developed by the American Cancer Society and is offered at no charge thanks to a grant from the Maine Cancer Foundation. Bill Flagg, director of community relations and development, said that offering smoking cessation education is part of the hospital’s response to a Community Health Needs assessment.

“Every three years we are required to complete a comprehensive Community Health Needs Assessment,” said Flagg who coordinates the assessment. “We identify the major health risk factors or significant health issues and we have a three year time frame to address them with the goal of improving overall community health. Tobacco use has always been one of the top five significant health issues and we are pleased to partner with the Aroostook County Action Program (ACAP) to offer Fresh Start.”

The Freshstart program is designed to help smokers quit smoking and develop coping skills to combat the psychological and physical side effects of smoking cessation. This straightforward, upbeat program is intended to stress the positives of the smoking cessation experience — the reasons to quit, the benefits of quitting — while honestly exploring the very real, unpleasant feelings that are a part of beating the addiction to nicotine and the habit of smoking. Freshstart focuses on an active, pragmatic approach to quitting smoking with each participant directing his or her own efforts to quit.  And while Freshstart emphasizes each member’s personal responsibility for their success, the program content is crucial to that success. Most important to the delivery of the program content is the facilitator. A facilitator is responsible for making sure that all group members fully participate in the Freshstart program. That person will provide group leadership, interpretation of program materials, moral support, and clear, accurate information about the smoking cessation process.

Elaine Sipe is a community educator and tobacco specialist at ACAP and is certified as a facilitator for the Freshstart program. She said that she was excited to offer the program virtually and to join Cary in the effort to promote smoking cessation, “I am thrilled that ACAP and CARY can work together to help people get tobacco free.  It is more important now than ever to get our lungs in the best possible shape. I hope people will join us in free ZOOM Freshstart classes to get into a new smoke-free life”.

Flagg pointed out that smoking rates in Aroostook County continue to be among the highest in the nation.

“Nationally, about 14 in 100 adults over the age of 18 use tobacco regularly,” he said. “In Aroostook County that rate is nearly 19 percent. Some 2400 people die in Maine each year from tobacco related causes and smoking related health issues cost the state $811 million dollars annually.”

The Freshstart program is limited to 10 people per series. Individuals interested in joining the upcoming program offering are encouraged to call Cary Community Relations at 207-498-1112. You must pre-register to participate.