BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - An estimated 45% percent of Americans make New Year's resolutions, according to a University of Scranton psychology study, but only about 8% actually stay on track.
Kicking a tobacco habit is a popular goal, and it's the tobacco companies themselves currently funding the best resource to quit in Louisiana.
"We're hoping to enroll about 200,000 people over the course of the 10-year program," said Jim Pittman, spokesman for the Smoking Cessation Trust.
Millions of dollars are available to Louisiana residents who developed their smoking habit before September 1, 1988. The money comes from a class-action lawsuit settlement against the tobacco industry. Scott v. American Tobacco Company resulted in the Smoking Cessation Trust.
"We're hoping to use all the money that's available to help as many people quit as possible. What we don't want to have to do is give the money back to the tobacco industry," Pittman said.
A quick application process can result in free services, including counseling, nicotine-replacement therapies like gum and patches, and even prescription medication. Once approved, members of the "Scott Class" get a benefit card that can be used at the pharmacy.
Two years into the program, the Smoking Cessation Trust has approved over 21,000 applications, which amounts to 96% of those submitted.
"A big challenge of ours is that we are not allowed to use any of the money that has been established to help people quit for advertising," Pittman added. "So we're dependent on the media, word of mouth and social media websites,"
Access the application by visiting SmokingCessationTrust.org, or call (855) 259-6346.
Those who started smoking after September 1, 1988 can find other free resources at QuitWithUsLA.org. It's a collaboration between the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living and the Department of Health and Hospital's Tobacco Control Program.
"With Well-Ahead Louisiana, that's our primary focus, to help to create tobacco-free environments across the state, to really support those making the decision to go tobacco-free," said Well-Ahead Louisiana director Melissa Martin. "And to keep the air clean for those already living tobacco-free lifestyles."
Look for more "WellSpots" to pop up this year throughout the state. A WellSpot is a designated public space, restaurant, office, etc. that commits to clean air and healthy choices.
In March, the Centers for Disease Control will award the next round of its 5-year tobacco control grant to Louisiana along with other states. DHH's Health Promotion Team will work to create a 5-year strategic plan to use that money to reduce tobacco use in Louisiana, press officer Ashley Lewis said.
The agency is also working with Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center to explore the option of in-person, on-site tobacco cessation counseling classes for state employees.
Those classes are already free for the general public. Individual counseling classes begin January 12, while group sessions begin Jan. 14. Sessions are at various times once a week for nine weeks. To enroll, call 215-1274 or visit mbpolol.org/geauxfree
Experts recommend the following steps for those who are ready to quit:
1. Set a Quit Date – Usually about two weeks away, free of any stressors
2. Tell family & friends – Build a network of supporters
3. Plan for challenges – Take advantage of free counseling, even if just over the phone
4. Get rid of any tobacco-related products – Including your home, office and vehicle
5. Talk to your doctor – Discuss over-the-counter or nicotine-replacement options and prescription medications that can help you quit