Stop-smoking classes offer help for quitters

By Agnes Hapka

August 2, 2013

POINT PLEASANT — Teresa Mills focuses on helping smokers change long-established habits, and understand the reasons they want to smoke, so they can kick the addiction permanently.

“People tend to want a quick fix,” Mills said, “But what we do is give people practical methods for breaking longterm habits; we look at the psychological of addiction, and give provide resources for success in quitting.”

Mills, the regional tobacco prevention coordinator for the Cabell-Huntington Health Department, travels in six counties and teaches smoking cessation classes at Mason County Health Department. She is also a part of initiatives to promote and maintain clean indoor air, and works with high school and college students. She assisted with implementing the new tobacco-free policy at Marshall University.

“There’s now a campus-wide tobacco ban,” said Mills, who has also collaborated with Pleasant Valley Hospital on its tobacco-free policy.

Locally, smoking-cessation classes are available regularly through the health department. They run for three hours per session, in which smokers are encouraged to examine the harm smoking does to a body.

“We also look at the ingredients in cigarettes,” Mills noted, adding that the classes emphasize the importance of maintaining an all-around healthy lifestyle. Mills does not provide medications or nicotine alternatives.

Mills, who has been in her current position for 10 years now, said she tries to design each class according the needs of the local populations.

“I try to tailor-make the program for the relevant people.” Mills said that the classes and ongoing programs provide necessary support and structure. “People always have good intentions, but when it comes time to set a quit date, it’s scary.”

Mills said that the West Virigina Quitline, too, is an excellent resource for people who’d like to quit. Quitline is a free service available to qualified smokers. Those who qualify include military and immediate family, pregnant smokers, adults 55 and over or between the ages of 18 and 24, college students, faculty and staff, and the uninsured. Those enrolled in the program can expect to receive four free, confidential phone calls from a stop-smoking coach. Nicotine Replacement Therapy is also available through Quitline.

For more information on the smoking cessation classes and other programs, Teresa Mills may be reached at (304) 633-4555. The West Virginia Quitline number is (800) Quit-Now.