Skip to content

A Breath of Fresh Air, A Smoke Free Zone

December 11, 2015



There are very few of us anymore who will argue the point that smoking cigarettes is seriously bad for your health. Additionally, the odors that linger on your breath, your clothes, in your car and in your home, the burden on your weekly budget, the yellowing of your fingers and teeth can hardly compete with the glamorous image that cigarette smoking may have held previously for some of us.

Yet, it remains one of the most difficult habits to break. Those that still do smoke, and those that are trying to assist others to quit, will attest that trying to quit smoking is harder than any other addiction, including alcohol, pain killers or even heroin. In addition to the significant physical cravings, smoking becomes so integrated into a smoker’s daily routine, that there it seems that only a multi-layered, multi-dimensional approach to quitting has a chance of being successful.

As an integrated behavioral health care program, partnered with rural health care clinics, and with the ability and flexibility to provide a variety of wellness interventions and activities, Vista Hill SmartCare is finding that a multi-dimensional approach to smoking cessation indeed has possibilities for success.

When one of our partnering health care providers encourages a patient to quit smoking due to the various significant related health risks, and then provides a “warm hand-off” to a SmartCare provider, the SmartCare provider can then help that patient assess motivation, lifestyle, support networks, basic needs and other factors. There is no “one method fits all” approach.  But as we currently have the benefit of offering free patches to our patients through a County program, many patients appreciate this as a starting point to their plan.

They may then choose to participate in a weekly Wellness group or meet 1:1 with a SmartCare provider to learn stress reduction techniques, improve their eating habits now that their taste buds are coming back, increase their physical activity now that their lung capacity is improving, and alter their other routines that previously supported their smoking habits. They may choose to also participate in other SmartCare Wellness events, such as Yoga, Art, Mindfulness or other Wellness topics to replace/add healthier habits to their routines and increase their positive social interactions, such as an Empowerment Group or Walking Group. Most also register for the California No Butts Website for additional support.

Our SmartCare teams have worked with many patients in the past few months who have successfully reduced their smoking or quit altogether. For example, there is the 65 year old gentleman from Boulevard who has been smoking for more than 50 years.  He has COPD and uses a nebulizer. He has tried to quit smoking several times over the years. He had recently tried patches, but couldn’t afford to continue to purchase them.  His daily habit had been as much as 2 ½ packs, and when he was referred to SmartCare was smoking at least a pack a day.  With a combination of patches, registering on line with the County “No Butts” campaign and bi-weekly 1:1 meetings with a Behavioral Health Educator to help him identify his smoking patterns and triggers, the patient began to find activities to keep his hands busy (puzzles and crafts) and started walking daily.  Within two weeks he was smoking 10 cigarettes a day, and within four weeks was smoking 2 cigarettes a day.  His use of his inhaler and nebulizer has decreased significantly also. Most importantly, he expresses tremendous pride in his accomplishment and improved overall wellness, as well as motivation to continue.

SmartCare’s hope is to continue to partner with others who choose to breathe deeply, mindfully and freely.

Pamela Sachs, LCSW









One Comment leave one →
  1. Robert Dean permalink
    December 12, 2015 12:14 am

    Excellent discussion and description about resources to quit smoking. My father and my wife’s mother developed chronic lung conditions from smoking. The long term effects on health and quality of life are real.
    -Rob D.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: