Sunday, September 10, 2000

Few fired up about stop-smoking classes

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — Local agencies trying to help people quit smoking are finding business tough to come by these days.

        The Franklin County unit of the American Cancer Society canceled 48 anti-smoking classes this summer because of a lack of interest. The Central Ohio Breathing Association said it enrolled 250 smokers in classes this year compared with almost 1,600 last year.

        “We've knocked our heads against the wall trying to figure out how we can encourage smokers to stop,” said Candi Rotolo, director of prevention and detection for the cancer society.

        Ms. Rotolo said that when she told some smokers about the cancellations, she “heard them cry over the telephone because they were psychologically ready to stop.”

        “I'm extremely frustrated,” said Marie Collart, the breathing association's executive director. “We've put together the best package we can, and smokers are not reaching for it.”

        Health care advocates wish they could attribute the decline to fewer smokers, but that figure has hovered around 26 percent for seven years in Ohio.

        Traditional smoking cessation programs rely on education, behavior modification and group support. They consist of four to 12 one-hour meetings.

        Ohio has dedicated $1.25 billion of the $10.1 billion tobacco settlement to stop-smoking and anti-smoking programs.


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