Class helps smokers quit for good

The devastating effects of smoking on your health are well known.

"Smoking is linked to most of the top ten deaths in America. Not just cardiovascular disease but cancers as well," said cardiovascular specialist Dr. Darrin Breaux.

Yet, a drag on a cigarette is still too much for many to resist.  Take Liz Akers, a nurse who was well aware of the health risks; she had been a smoker since she was a teen.

"I smoked first thing in the morning, as soon as I woke up. I smoked after I dropped my son off to school. I had 3 times a day at work I would go outside and smoke. Stressors, triggers, things like that," Akers said. "It was like my life was punctuated by cigarettes."

At one point, Akers was a pack a day smoker spending around a $150 each month.  Her 12 year old son was not a fan.

"He was going through the DARE program at school and every day he was on me to quit smoking," she said.

Akers had tried to quit once cold turkey, without success.  Breaux says that's a common story.

"I think the biggest failure people have is because they don't' have the proper tools. I don't think they understand what the tools are," Breaux said.

When she decided to quit a second time, she enrolled in the Baton Rouge General Hospital's Smoking Cessation class.

"The accountability held to other people in the class. The facilitators were a great support system and then the strategies they provided were really important to me in knowing how to put the cigarettes down," said Akers.

Akers when through the class and has been smoke free since February.  She says she noticed an immediate improvement in her health, and she says her son couldn't be prouder.

Breaux says the five week program is a great tool for smokers looking to quit, and for doctors who want to educate their at risk patients.

"I always worry about those patients more that despite what we're trying to do medically with their cholesterol, blood pressure that the smoking will make it more likely that we won't' be successful," Breaux said.

The next class starts May 7th. For information on getting involved, click here.

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