Free tobacco cessation program offered locally

The Decatur County Family YMCA will offer the free Freshstart program, which is intended to assist people in their attempt to quit using tobacco.

GREENSBURG – A program at the Decatur County Family YMCA will assist in giving people the support they need to quit using tobacco.

Known as Freshstart, the four week group-based approach helps participants increase their motivation to quit using tobacco, learn effective approaches for quitting and guiding them toward success. They’ll do this by providing information, activities and discussions, according to the DCFY.

The program is facilitated through the American Cancer Society.

The local ‘Y’ said the program uses the following evidence-based components:

• Motivational intervention activities

• Practical counseling (problem solving skills)

• Social support

• Education about medication and approaches to quitting

“We have offered this program for about a year now at the YMCA,” DCFY Wellness Coordinator Dawn Ernstes said. “Our main reason for starting it was to be able to offer it to our corporate members for their employees. Research shows that 5-15 percent of a company’s health care costs are spent on tobacco — $2,873 more a year in medical costs between smokers and non-smokers. Tobacco users have three times more absences and more breaks than nonsmokers.”

With them offering this program free of charge to the public, Ernstes spoke about just how important this is for Decatur County.

“According to the hospital’s Community Needs Assessment for 2019, 18.2 percent of Decatur County’s residents smoke,” Ernstes said. “This is higher than the US average of 16.3 percent, but lower than Indiana’s average of 21.1 percent. It is also higher than the Healthy People 2020 target of 12 percent or lower. So, as a county, we still have some work to do to get residents to quit smoking.”

Even though the program is free, Ernstes said they haven’t had any participants yet.

“Unfortunately, to date we have not had anyone take advantage of this class, even though it is free for them to participate,” Ernstes said. “We are working closely with a few of our corporate members at this time to begin offering the program to their employees, though. The program itself says that it takes 5-7 attempts before a smoker actually quits successfully, so a smoker may need to take this program or something similar a few times before actually quitting smoking entirely.”

Ernstes also referred to the importance of joining a program where everyone has the same goal, and how that might help them in their pursuit of putting down tobacco.

“Being in a classroom based setting with people who have the same goal allows the participants to share ideas of what has worked and not worked in the past and help each of them find something that will work for them moving forward with this program,” Ernstes said.

Classes begin at 12:15 p.m. Sept. 23 or at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 10 at the DCFY’s 1 YMCA Way location in Greensburg.

Those who have questions or wish to enroll can contact the DCFY at 812-663-9622.

Contact: Joshua Heath, 812-663-3111 x217401;

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