Is your goal to stop smoking? Tulalip Community Health is here for you

scissors cut a cigarettes, concept for anti smoking

By Shaelyn Hood, Tulalip News

Like most goals, people have the mindset to change habits in their life. Whether it’s to negative a habit or improve upon one. Throughout the years, one common goal amongst Americans, and one of the hardest to stop, is trying to stop smoking.

According to the FDA, smoking cigarettes accounts for 480,000 premature deaths per year. Even though the knowledge about the negative effects of smoking is widely known by Americans, still around 34 million Americans smoke cigarettes today and smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. “In 2015, nearly 70 percent of current adult smokers in the United States said they wanted to quit. In 2018, about 55 percent of adult smokers had made a quit attempt in the past year, but only about 8 percent were successful in quitting for 6-12 months.”

If you break down the components of cigarettes, the most harmful ingredients are nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar. Not to mention, over 600 other deathly chemicals including but not limited to, benzene, arsenic, and formaldehyde. These chemicals lead to issues like cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The active and most addictive ingredient is the nicotine, which inevitably makes quitting that much harder. 

Much like cigarettes, what is becoming more of a concern in society is the rise in use of e-cigarettes. Even though they do contain different ingredients, and cause different health issues, e-cigarettes can be equally as devasting to your health. According to monthly newsletter from the National Institutes of Health, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “A new survey found an alarming rise in the number of American teens who tried vaping last year. The study suggests that vaping may be driving an increase in nicotine use for teens”, and “Exposure to nicotine during youth can lead to addiction and cause long-term harm to brain development. The vapor can also contain toxins (including ones that cause cancer) and tiny particles that are harmful when breathed in.”

One could argue that the use of tobacco is a part of tribal culture. Traditional tobacco used to be harvested and used by Native Americans for ceremonial and medicinal purposes. It used to hold cultural and spiritual importance, and was offered when asking for help, guidance, or protection. In many teachings, the smoke that burned from the tobacco would carry thoughts and prayers to the spirit world or to the Creator. However, these traditions used tobacco in its purest form, and its ingredients differ widely from the products that tobacco is paired with today. Along with that, the use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes don’t hold the traditional values that smoking tobacco once had, but rather are used on a more recreational basis. 

Like many other health issues, the Tulalip Community Health Department is invested in the wellbeing of tribal members. One of these efforts includes the 12-week, Smoking Cessation program. The purpose of the program is to provide a sanctuary for tribal members and any Snohomish County residents and assist them as they attempt to tackle quitting smoking. They do this by providing education and resources for community members on replacing addictive behaviors with health and wellness. This is accomplished through prevention activities, counseling (one-on-one, and group), and support for ongoing prevention (such as smoking cessation and use reduction). Additionally, they provide various nicotine replacement therapy like patches, gum, and lozenges.

When speaking with Seilavena Williams, prevention coordinator for the program, she said “what makes it unique is that we intertwine with myself, and two nurses who have had the tobacco specialist training. Also, that it is free. Most clinics or services don’t offer those products for free. But we do training, provide education and support, but also, we supply you the products as well.” 

The value of the training that these representatives have is that they have a better understanding of someone’s journey. Williams said, “We know it takes time and understanding and patience with an individual. When they want to take this next step of wanting to quit, sometimes it doesn’t happen right away. Sometimes it takes a few times, but we are there supporting them throughout their journey.”

Currently with the Covid-19 pandemic, and the respiratory issues that follow the virus, it becomes a crucial time to stop smoking. Studies have shown that people that have predisposed illnesses and health concerns are more likely to have higher complications when contracting Covid-19. In a pandemic time, with the assistance of the Smoking Cessation Program, you have the ability to try and take control of your health again.

If you or someone you know is needing help quitting cigarettes or e-cigarettes, and need more information about the Smoking Cessation program, please contact Seilavena Williams at 360-716-5662.