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Quitting tobacco — free help line offers support

This article is Sponsored by Arizona Department of Health

If you think you’ll never be able to stop using tobacco, Maria, Frances and Armando can tell you it’s possible – and help you through the process of quitting.

Maria started smoking when she was 12, abstaining during her pregnancies and quitting seven times to satisfy other people. By time she was 30 her husband had quit smoking, and she felt ready to give it up for good.

Frances was scared into quitting. She was smoking up to two packs a day when she developed chronic bronchitis and lost her voice for a month. She replaced her cigarettes with a nicotine patch and left town for a three-week road trip, removing herself from her triggers and enabling her to give up smoking after 32 years.

Armando smoked flavored tobacco on a hookah as a teenager, eventually vaping daily until he learned about quitting through the ASHLine, a free smoking cessation program available to all Arizona residents through a partnership with the University of Arizona and the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Maria, Frances and Armando are all ASHLine outreach coaches who can offer advice and a different perspective as you figure out how to overcome your emotional attachment to tobacco and your physical addiction to nicotine.

“We’re collaborators in a process. We’ll help you set small, weekly goals. If you don’t meet your goal, it just means that we need to try something different,” Frances said. “Our sessions are a series of problem-solving sessions. We want to show you that change is not only possible but can become easier over time. And we always circle back to your motivation and goal – your vision of being a non-smoker.”

By offering FREE coaching tailored to your needs and interests, you can learn how to overcome triggers, tweak your smoking routines and develop new rituals in your life. Armando suggests clients start by making one small change in their smoking habit, such as prolonging the first cigarette in the morning for 30 minutes.

“Self-doubt is so common, especially when you’re trying to make a change after so long,” he said. “My approach is to focus on the smaller victories first so you can increase your confidence.”

ASHLine coaches offer support without judgement; they don’t pressure you to quit under a certain time frame. Six months after you enroll, you can re-enroll with the same coach or someone new.

“If you want to quit, you will,” Maria said. “If not, you’ll learn something about yourself. We work on removing stigma and self-blame.”

When you sign up for ASHLine, you receive a tobacco-cessation resource book and a free two-week supply of one of the seven FDA-approved nicotine-replacement medications, which can ease physical withdrawal.

Through funding provided by the Arizona Department of Health Services, the ASHLine helps people quit tobacco and supports employers interested in offering tobacco cessation services.

“Usually, a combination of coaching, medication and the support of friends and family helps people succeed,” said Wayne Tormala, chief of the Arizona Department of Health Services’ Bureau of Chronic Disease & Health Promotions.

ASHLine coaches are available any time of day at 1-800-55-66-222.

The award-winning, nationally recognized Arizona Department of Health Services is responsible for leading Arizona’s public health system including responding to disease outbreaks, licensing health and childcare facilities, operating the Arizona State Hospital and improving the overall health and wellness of all Arizonans.