LMH educator to discuss smoking cessation

November 18, 2010

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Aynsley Anderson

The 35th Great American Smokeout is Nov. 18.
The American Cancer Society encourages smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day.
Aynsley Anderson, community education coordinator for Lawrence Memorial Hospital, teaches smoking cessation classes, and she is ready to help smokers kick the habit.


This morning, Aynsley Anderson is here to answer questions about smoking cessation in celebration of the Great American Smokeout. I am health reporter Karrey Britt and I will be moderating this chat. Thanks for being here, Aynsley.
Tell us a little about yourself and what you do at Lawrence Memorial Hospital?

Aynsley Anderson:

I am an RN and the Coordinator of the Community Education Dept at LMH. We teach all kinds of classes to the community both and in and outside of the hospital. I cover wellness and health screenings as my main area of focus, including smoking cessation.


What's the best way to encourage a loved one to stop smoking? I know only they can do it -- but what can I do to help them?

Aynsley Anderson:

Just provide lots of support and encouragement and not too much advice and definitely no nagging. Don't call attention to their smoking if they fall off the wagon or belittle them if they do so. Just encourage them and tell them they can do it. If you smoke, try to quit with them or if you can't quit, take your smoking away from them. If they are in the quit process and a little irritable, be tolerate and offer to do something nice for them. Above all, don't give up hope that they will quit as eventually if most people keep after it, they are successful. You can also offer to attend a support group or class with them if they are a little reluctant to do so on their own.


In your opinion, how successful is a fairly large and visual public awareness campaign, like the Great American Smokeout, at getting people to quit smoking?

Aynsley Anderson:

I hate to be negative but it is usually not very successful long-term. Many people do not take the time to put a plan in place for long-term success which includes addressing all three aspects of smoking - physical addiction, psychological addiction and the habit. If one does not address all three, it is unlikely there will be long-term success. The plus side of the Smokeout is that often one who wants to quit does not feel like they are so alone.



I quit smoking over two years ago and admittedly, I occasionally still find the urge to smoke. Thankfully I haven't done so. What do you find is the most common trigger that starts people smoking again after they have already quit for so long?

Nick Krug

Aynsley Anderson:

Congratulations Nick! You need to celebrate each day that you are smoke-free.I think for most people it can either be stress or alcohol. Everyone has stress in their life and unless you develop alternate coping skills to deal with a stressful life experience (which we eventually all will have) other than smoking, when that happens often people who have quit may go back to the only stress management tool that they have used before which is smoking. In addition, alcohol and being in a social situation where they are other smokers (especially when alcohol is on-board to cloud judgement) often causes people to pick up a cigarette as they think just one can't hurt. One usually leads to two and then a pack and then they are back at it. For many people staying quit is a day to day process where each and every day, you have to resolve not to smoke. The urge sometimes is always there for some folks but you just have to stay stronger than that cigarette. You can do it!


I just wrote a story about the Leo Center's smoking cessation program. What does LMH offer? Classes? One-on-one coaching? A phone line?

Aynsley Anderson:

We offer classes to groups of 5 or more such as business groups or community groups. These are held on-site and are free of charge. We will begin offering again (we took a little break) a stop smoking class (just a one session class) once a quarter at the hospital for the community. In addition, I am available to speak with people by phone and also to send them reference material. We hope to develop at 1:1 counseling program if staffing permits. For more information, they can call me at (785) 505-3066 or aynsley.anderson@lmh.org.


I date a smoker and I'd like him to quit. He's aware of the health risks and financial aspects of smoking. So how to I start this conversation without feeling like I'm being a nag or sound like I'm trying to change who he is?

Aynsley Anderson:

That can be a tough conversation to have particularly if he is not ready to quit. Sometimes it helps to say something like "I really care about you and your health and I am very concerned that your smoking is going to lead to health problems for you and possibly even for me from being exposed to your smoke. I would really like you to quit. I know it will make our relationship even better. What can I do to help you with that?"

It is hard to see someone you care about engaging in this unhealthy behavior. Just be there for him and know that he has to be ready himself to take the big step. No one can get him to do that . And when he is ready to try quitting, be as supportive as you can as I discussed previously.


Hello, Aynsley.
I'm wondering how much more smoking can decrease. I mean, folks who are overweight still overeat. Diabetics warned about the dangers of sugar still eat ridiculous amounts of sugar. Drivers told to slow down still speed. Smokers -- knowing the dangers of smoking -- still smoke. In your experience, how many more people do you figure can be convinced to quit, and how much harder is it to convince -- and assist -- those folks to quit?

Aynsley Anderson:

I think there are always going to be people engaging in unhealthy behaviors no matter what they are. For many people, it is lack of knowledge while for others it may be just dealing with the pressures of life. The good news is that as more and more people become educated through tools like WellCommons and reputable internet sites etc., knowledge of how to lead a healthier lifestyles and the benefits of such, will become more widespread. I also think it is becoming more of the social norm not to smoke and that the pressure from peers will help drive some away from picking up or continuing to engage in that behavior. We are seeing that with youth already.


HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius addressed smoking as a No. 1 health concern globally. She said the smoking rate has been stagnant for about a decade. She also specifically talked about teen smoking and how many are still picking up the habit. Do you know what the teen smoking rate is in Lawrence or Douglas County, and what is being done to address the issue? What should parents know?

Aynsley Anderson:

I want to make sure folks are aware of the Kansas Quitline. This is a free resource for those trying to quit smoking provided by the Kansas Dept of Health&Environment. Their phone number is 1-866-KAN-STOP. Callers can receive all kinds of information at no charge as well as be connected with a smoking cessation counselor who can help them develop a personalized program for quitting. In addition, they now have internet support once one registers and gets involved with the program. THis is an excellent resource.


Hi, Aynsley: Even though many people who smoke know at some level that it can harm them physically, they keep smoking because they find comfort in it....it's a solution for anxiety, jittery nerves or a method to get away from uncomfortable situations. Do you think it's important to help those people find something to replace smoking? Something healthy?

Aynsley Anderson:

In answer to your question, Moderator, I am not aware of the latest stats for our County on teen smoking but I think (and this is just an estimate) it hovers around the 5-19% mark depending on age. Older kids of course have a higher rate than kids in Junior High.

The kids in school get lots of information on the dangers of smoking from the elementary years and onward. The Dg Co Community Health Improvement Partnership (CHIP) goes into many of the schools with their April Age program which takes pictures of kids and then ages them as if they had been smokers. Very powerful educational tool for kids.

Many of the high schools in the County have teen groups devoted to educating others about the dangers of smoking. In fact, there are probably many activities happening today in high schools due to this being the Smokeout.

We want to do all we can to prevent youth from picking up the habit as studies show if kids pick it up before age 19, they are more likely to become long-term smokers.

Aynsley Anderson:

Absolutely, finding something to do to manage stress and anxiety other than smoking is probably THE most important key to success with long-term quitting. It takes most people about 30 days to break a bad habit and 30 days to establish a new one. I always advise people who are quitting smoking, to at the same time work on developing a new stress management skill (other than smoking) such as daily exercise, relaxation techniques, etc. that they can work on daily so that down the road when they need it, it will be up and working for them when smoking is no longer an option.


What have you found works best for kicking the habit?

Aynsley Anderson:

Just keeping after it and never giving up. With each attempt that people make to quit and then possibly fail, they learn something. I call it "plugging up the holes." Eventually there are no holes left to plug and they are successful.

Studies show that the more tools one throws at the problem, the higher their success rate. This includes prescription meds such as Chantix, nicotine replacement products and counseling or support about how to address all three of the aspects of smoking (as noted above). The latter is key.


Thanks for coming in today. You've provided a lot of great information!

Aynsley Anderson:

Thank you for having me!


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