This story was submitted by 2016 MSOL grads Liz Mirsky and Sreeja Sanampudi, second year medical school students at the University of Kentucky who help run the Salvation Army Stop Smoking Support Group in Lexington this year.
Kentucky has some of the highest numbers of adults who smoke and youth who use tobacco products in the U.S., according to a 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 25 percent of Kentucky adults smoke—the highest rate in the U.S. Kentucky youth in grades 9-12 are among the second highest percentage of tobacco users (16.9 percent).
Although the rate of adults who smoke has decreased over the years and there has been an increased emphasis on public smoking bans, Kentucky has the highest prevalence of lung cancer in both men and women in the U.S., according to the American Lung Association.
Seeking to address this health care crisis, the Salvation Army in Lexington started a Stop Smoking Support Group in 2010 in association with the University of Kentucky student-run Salvation Army Clinic. The initial mission was to address smoking cessation in the homeless population at the Salvation Army, an emergency shelter providing lodging for homeless women and women with children.
Since its inception, the group has held weekly one-hour meetings for those staying at the Salvation Army as well as for the public. Student volunteers and advising nurses provide motivational and practical counseling at these open format meetings. Participants are encouraged to make weekly goals and are offered free nicotine replacement therapy and lozenges as well as contingency rewards for complete tobacco cessation.
We highly encourage physicians to suggest this program to their patients. We work with advanced practice nurse volunteers Audrey Darville, Ph.D., APRN, and Karma Cassidy, Ph.D., RN, both certified in tobacco cessation treatment. With their assistance, this program has benefited several people in Lexington and has the potential to help a wider variety of participants in neighboring communities.
The Stop Smoking Support Group meets every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Salvation Army Clinic at 736 W Main St. in Lexington. Anyone interested in quitting smoking is welcome to attend.
Let’s take a step together toward a healthier community.