Free class helps coast residents kick the habit

By Karen Abernathy – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Jeffrey Taylor of Pass Christian owns a landscaping and lawn care business, and is always on the go. At age 51 he says he feels better than he has in years, because he quit smoking.

"I feel so much better," Taylor said. "My oxygen intake is better, I can breath so much better. It has improved my endurance, I can actually work. Everybody needs to quit those things."

Taylor quit smoking in March, and hasn't picked up a cigarette since then. That's a huge step for someone who smoked a pack a day for 30 years. He said it was definitely worth the effort.

"I am enjoying my health now."

Taylor attributes his success to tobacco cessation classes at Memorial Hospital at Gulfport.

"It teaches you how to quit smoking. It's the classes and the drugs that help you. It teaches you that you can beat this."

The program combines weekly classroom sessions with medications, if needed, absolutely free.

Deloras Morris is the tobacco educator at Memorial Hospital who runs heads up the classes.

"It provides support from other participants who are trying to quit, along with the free meds, and lessons that teach you how to quit, strategies to help you replace the tobacco," Morris said.

The free program is funded with help from the University of Mississippi Medical Center's ACT Center, and the Mississippi Department of Health.

Morris said she is pleased with the success rate.

"We have a 45 to 65 percent quit rate, which is good. But not everyone quits, and some people do have to come back for another session. Our door is always open."

Taylor credits the classes with making it possible for him to finally quit, after 30 years of failed attempts. And he encourages everyone who wants to quit, to try the program.

"Everything about smoking is bad and I'm sorry I ever started smoking, but I'm glad I quit. And I think everybody should try the class."

Again the class is free, but you have to pre-register to participate. For more information call Memorial Hospital at (228) 867-4022.

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