Recognised the world over as one of the very worst habits for your health, smoking is being targeted in an initiative spearheaded by the Public Health Department of the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA). Physicians and other healthcare professionals are coming together to offer support when it comes to helping people kick the habit.
The initiative called ‘I Can Quit’, will be launched on 4th June, just after World Tobacco Day which takes place annually on 31st May. It will empower smokers to break the habit through a combined effort that includes the provision of medicine, group support and individual counselling services. The programme will run for seven weeks on Wednesdays from 5:30pm to 6:30 pm at the Public Health Department.
The 2012 Cayman Islands Government Chronic Disease Risk Factor Survey, known as the ‘Healthy Nation’ survey, revealed some disturbing statistics with regard to the extent that the habit took place among the Cayman population, emphasising the necessity of such a programme.
Results from the survey indicated that 15% of the population’s 25-64 year olds smoked tobacco, with men twice as likely as women to do so. Among those who smoked, the majority of them, 67.1%, smoked tobacco daily. For both men and women, smokers started smoking tobacco at an average age of 20 and further analysis by age group showed that those aged 25-34 years started smoking at approximately 18 years of age. Daily smokers smoked an average of 11 cigarettes per day.
During the ‘I Can Quit’ programme, participants will learn all aspects of the process of quitting smoking, from recognising smoking triggers to the physical discomforts of quitting, as well as learning strategies for success. For those who successfully quit, an ongoing support group will aim to prevent relapse. Every session will include a baseline testing for carbon monoxide levels, weight and blood pressure for each participant.
Ms. Therese Prehay, Health Promotion Officer of the Public Health Department, who has recently become a Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist, coordinates the ‘I Can Quit’ programme.
“This is a worthwhile programme to attend if you are a smoker and keen to stop,” said Ms. Prehay. “The health benefits to quitting can be felt almost immediately and the benefits to long term health are enormous.”
Ms Lizzette Yearwood, Chief Executive Officer of the HSA, encouraged the general public as well as personnel at the Health Services Authority to participate in this. “We believe that our staff should set a positive example of following a healthy lifestyle, so we especially encourage them to participate in this vital programme,” said Ms Yearwood.
“The ‘I Can Quit’ programme is just one of the initiatives that came out of the last Cayman Islands Healthcare Conference, an annual event that brings healthcare professionals and the public together to discuss the latest in local health issues. The information discussed at the conference is carefully collated and then used to help form initiatives and programmes to improve the health of the nation, such as ‘I Can Quit’,” Ms Yearwood added.
While this first programme is now completely full due to high demand, people interested in quitting smoking should contact the Public Health Department on tel. 244-2889, or email Sarah.Hetley@hsa.ky to get registered for a future programme and any immediate support needed.