Posts for the ‘Tobacco Cessation’ Category

The Great American Smokeout

By Julie Walker, Take Control Staff

Are you ready to quit smoking or using tobacco? November 16th is the Great American Smokeout, and we encourage you to use that date to make a plan to quit. Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the world. Quitting smoking has immediate short and long term benefits at any age.

Quitting is hard, but you can increase your chances of success with help. Programs like ours, along with counseling or medications, can double or triple your chances of quitting successfully.

Within minutes of smoking your last cigarette, your body begins to recover. From as early as 20 minutes, to up to 15 years later, your body heals. Your heart rate and blood pressure drop, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops, your circulation improves and lung function increases, coughing and shortness of breath decreases. Your risk of heart disease and heart attack drops significantly. Your cancer risk decreases.

Right away, you’ll notice that food tastes better, your sense of smell returns to normal, your breath, hair, and clothes smell better, your teeth and fingernails stop yellowing, and activities leave you less out of breath. Long term, you’ll also see improvements in how you look, including premature wrinkling of your skin, gum disease, and tooth loss.

You know the benefits of quitting, so now how do you do it?

  1. Decide to quit, and make a plan. Set a date. Decide how you want to quit – will you use go cold turkey, gradual withdrawal, nicotine replacement, prescription drugs, and/or try some alternative therapies such as hypnosis, acupuncture, etc.
  1. Prepare for your quit day. Mark the date on your calendar, tell family and friends and set up a support system, get rid of cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car, and work. Stock up on gum, carrots, hard candy, or other oral substitutes. Practice saying “no thank you, I don’t smoke.” Ask family and friends who still smoke not to smoke around you or leave cigarettes out. If you plan to use prescription drugs, pick them up before your quit date. Think about any past attempts to quit, and figure out what worked and what didn’t. Make a list of things you can do to stay busy.
  1. On your quit day. Do not smoke, not even one puff. Stay busy, use your list to go walking, hiking, activities, hobbies – things that don’t trigger you. Drink lots of water. If they are part of your plan, start using nicotine replacement or prescriptions. Attend a stop-smoking class, or follow your self-help plan. Avoid situations where the temptation or risk to smoke is strong, including avoiding people who smoke. Drink less alcohol, or completely avoid it. Think about how you can change your routine – use a different route to work, drink tea instead of coffee, eat meals in different places, or eat different foods.
  1. Fight the urge. Be prepared to feel the urge to smoke, it will pass whether you smoke or not. Use the 4 D’s to help fight the urge: DELAY for 10 minutes. Repeat if needed. DEEP BREATHE – close your eyes, slowly breathe in through your nose and out your mouth. Picture your lungs filling with fresh, clean air. DRINK WATER – slowly, sip by sip. DO SOMETHING ELSE – some activities trigger cravings, do something that doesn’t. Get up and move around.
  1. Celebrate small victories. Post about it on social media, and your friends will encourage you. Reward yourself with something you enjoy. Use an app such as Smoke Free to calculate how much money you’ve saved so far. Set a goal to reward yourself with something after you’ve saved a certain amount of money. Schedule a wellness exam to have medical results showing your health improvements in blood pressure and heart rate. Be kind to yourself and admire your strength.

We hope you choose this year to quit – let us know if we can help!



IN CONTROL – Person of the Month: Meriem H.

By Kat Van Fossen, Take Control Health Coach

I chose Meriem as our Person of the Month because of her positivity! Her outlook is not only the glass is half full, but she also figured out how to use the other half. Meriam showed bravery every step of the way – she was not afraid or intimidated to either lose weight or to stop smoking.

What made you decide to join Take Control’s Lifestyle Management program? I was tired of being overweight, and tired of struggling to lose it by myself.

What were your reasons/motivation for wanting to make changes regarding your health?  I wanted to get healthier for both my kids and for myself. I was always on the go, so I had no idea how to fit exercise or cooking into my lifestyle. I need someone to give me some guidance on how to fit everything into my life.

What are the biggest challenges and accomplishments in your health since you started?  What do you feel was your biggest obstacle? Not only did I need to lose weight, but I was smoking to keep from gaining more weight. Smoking was my biggest obstacle, because I was so afraid that if I quit smoking I would gain weight. Enrolling in Take Control gave me the tools to take on both problems at once. I was able to quit smoking and at the same time work on losing weight. The combination of being able to do that really set things in motion.

What did you do to stay motivated? Change was really hard because I had such a routine in place. But once I started paying attention to what I was doing, I was able to bring a newfound intention and focus to my habits. That awareness allowed me to truly “TAKE CONTROL” and break the robotic-type of behavior and routine I had been following. Once I put the intention in motion, things got so much easier and easier. Once things got easier, the motivation really increased. Taking the time to stop and look at my habits, and choosing to tweak them for the better really empowered me.

What have you gained through this process? I gained a lot more confidence in myself, and the drive to do better, not only for myself, but also for my family.

What differences do you see in yourself and the impact it has had on your health and life? My attitude has improved, my happiness has increased, and my stress level has decreased.

What advice or encouragement would you give others in our program? I would say try it! I was worried at first, but my health coach Kat eased that worry quickly. It didn’t matter if I had a good month or a bad month, she was positive and helped me gain confidence. Many weight loss programs want you to spend money for food, videos, or products. Take Control encourages you to work with what you have, and slowly add the changes into your life. But the key aspect was that you are a making the decisions throughout the process, not just doing what they say, you are in involved the whole way.


  • Stopped smoking!
  • Lost 33 pounds
  • Gained confidence
  • Improved attitude
  • Decreased stress
  • Gained mindfulness
  • Gained happiness

Tobacco Cessation Tips

8 Strategies for Quitting

By Kat Van Fossen, Take Control Health Coach

Quitting tobacco use is one of the most difficult lifestyle changes a person can attempt. It’s a complicated process, involving physical, mental, and emotional ties. Each person is unique in how and why they use tobacco products, and the Take Control program is unique because we work with each person individually to address his or her ties to tobacco use. Over the course of time, we’ve identified eight strategies that have worked well for our clients. No one strategy works perfect for every person. One or more of the following strategies may resonate with you. Those are the ones to try.

  1. Manage Stress

One reason people smoke is that the nicotine helps them relax. Once you quit, you’ll need another way to cope with stress. Some relaxation techniques include deep breathing, massage, meditation, Tai chi, Yoga, biofeedback, music and art therapy, aromatherapy, and hydrotherapy. Read more about relaxation techniques at

  1. Build Support – Tell Others

Tell your friends, family, and co-workers that you’re trying to quit. A support team is important for staying on track. Their encouragement could make the difference. You may also want to join a support group or talk to a counselor. Behavioral therapy is a type of counseling that helps you identify and stick to quit-smoking strategies. Combine behavioral therapy with nicotine replacement products and/or medication to boost your odds of success.

  1. Try and Try Again

Perseverance. As they say in Montana, get right back on the horse.

  1. Avoid Alcohol and Other Triggers

Certain activities may boost your urge to smoke. Alcohol is one of the most common triggers, so if you drink try to drink less when you first quit. If coffee is a trigger, switch to tea for a few weeks. And if you usually smoke after meals, find something else to do instead, like brushing your teeth or chewing gum.

  1. Get Moving

Physical activity can help reduce nicotine cravings and ease some withdrawal symptoms. Substitute a smoke break for a walk.

  1. Take It Hour by Hour

Don’t get overwhelmed, think about just making it through small pieces of time. Soon, all those small pieces add up to days and weeks.

  1. Think About The Savings

An average pack of cigarettes in Montana is $5.99, with 2% tax = $6.12. If you smoke a pack a day that would add up to $43.00 per week, $186.00 per month, or $2,228.00 per year. What else would you like to buy with that money?

  1. Use A Phone App

One of our members had great success using a phone app called “Smoke Free” to quit. The phone app sends you encouraging notifications, and tells you how much money you are saving. It uses humor and science, and practically makes quitting fun. More about the Smoke Free app.


What happens when you quit smoking? Would you be surprised to learn that your body begins to heal within 20 minutes, and continues to see benefits for the next 20 years? For more details about how the body heals over time, read our source: The Mind Unleashed.


People can feel very shameful of their habit. But keep in mind, the body can heal, and the mind will follow. Operating out of shame and guilt is not a healthy place. Examples of shame/guilt mindset:  “I feel like I’m weak and smoking has a great hold on me;” or “I think people don’t like me because I smoke.” It’s the smoking they don’t like, not the person. In order to quit, it’s important to figure out why the payoff of smoking is greater than the desire and fortitude to quit.

Let us know in the comments below if you have a strategy that we haven’t listed.

Smoke Free App

One of our members had great success quitting smoking by using a phone app, so we wanted to tell you about it. It’s called “Smoke Free,” it’s free, and it’s available on iPhone and Android platforms.


The Smoke Free app asks you to enter:

  • Your age
  • How many years you have been smoking
  • Your gender
  • The cost of your cigarettes or tobacco
  • The quantity in the packet
  • How many cigarettes you smoke each day
  • If you are using any other aids (electronic cigarette, patches, gum, perscriptions, etc.)
  • Your quit date

Once you enter the details, it will ask you to allow it to send you notifications. The notifications will tell you the benefits of quitting. Then the Dashboard appears, and it shows rotating and continuously updated information of the amount of money you’ll save in one year, life regained (minutes and days you’ve been smoke free), cigarettes not smoked, money saved, minutes smoke-free, and cravings resisted.



The app includes a diary that lets you enter if you’ve smoked since your last entry, how much you’ve spent on smoking cessation aids, how strong your cravings are, how many cravings you’ve had, and comments. This data is used to motivate you when it sends notifications; as well as for an optional feature that lets you participate in the app creator’s smoking cessation research for his PhD.

The Progress screen has reports for time, money, health, and cravings. The time report shows the seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years that you’ve been smoke-free. The money report shows your total money saved per minute, and your daily savings. It tells you to “buy yourself something nice” and allows you to set a goal to save money for something want, using the money you saved by not smoking. The Health report shows how soon your pulse rate, oxygen level, and carbon monoxide level return to normal after you stop smoking; what percent of nicotine has been expelled from your body; how soon your taste and smell, breathing level, and energy level should have returned to normal; how soon your circulation and coughs and wheezing will improve; and when your risk of heart attack and lung cancer will be reduced. the Cravings report uses your diary entries to monitor your progress with reducing cravings.

The Missions screen allows you to double your chance of quitting by doing assigned tasks such as reading their note, answering a question, writing down reasons, or making a plan for how you’ll deal with triggers. Once you complete a mission there are different funny animated .gifs that play. It definitely makes you smile.

Having a support system is one of the factors that affects success in tobacco cessation. If this phone app can become part of your support network, it will truly help you in your effort to quit smoking or tobacco.

Take Control is also part of your support system, so don’t hesitate to talk to your health coach if you either want to quit, or are having trouble quitting.

Let us know if you try this app, and what you like or don’t like about it.

For more information and links to install the app, visit the Smoke Free App web site.