What is the ‘but’ to quitting smoking?

By Paul Hughes
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs

Courtesy graphic

Barbara Roper, a clinical pharmacist at the Stuttgart Army Health Clinic has helped hundreds of people quit tobacco using a mixture of approaches. When Soldiers say they want to quit smoking, but [insert rationalization here], Roper has an answer.

“Most say they like it,” Roper said. “In this community, smoking is an outlet. It is a social interaction event. They do not want to choose something else. They eat all the good food. They exercise. They get fit for their next deployment. But counterintuitively, they are smoking.”

People need treatments tailored to their situation.

Roper is a non-smoker, yet smoking has affected her life. Her father quit for a common reason: family. Roper’s father quit cold turkey after his own father underwent smoke-related cancer procedures. That motivates her to help service members, civilians and family members of the Stuttgart military community. Roper explained how evidence supports the clinic’s cessation approach.

“There are published studies and published literature demonstrating patients who get medication, support and follow up are more likely to quit and to stay tobacco free,” Roper said.

What about vaping? Can this be used as an alternative to wean off cigarettes? Is it safer?

“We don’t yet know a lot about it” she replied. “Regulatory studies and approvals by the FCC have lagged behind. Vaping is still detrimental to health. The delivery of the product leaves a coating on the insides of your lungs, preventing them from operating normally.”

Roper cited a recent, well-publicized case of 17-year-old boy having a double lung transplant directly linked to vaping. He now faces a lifetime of anti-rejection medication and healthcare costs.

So, how do people quit?

“They have to make a decision that they want to quit. This is probably the hardest step.” Roper said. “There is no cookie-cutter solution. People need treatments tailored to their situation. For example, some smokers do not have cravings, but may have triggers to identify. Potential quitters need tools to help combat what is going on, in their body and brain. Most will need some help.”

That is where Roper and her colleagues at the clinic come in.

“When people want to quit, people will come in,” Roper said, emphasizing a key point–finding motivation. “Without that motivation, it will not be possible.”

For example, Roper worked with a man who said he did not want to quit because he liked smoking. She asked what he most valued. His response – his wife and daughter. Roper pulled out a slip paper and wrote “family” on one end and “smoking” on the other. His assignment, hang that note on the fridge and return in two weeks. He came back to Roper, having realized that family was the motivation he needed to quit.

“When people are ready to quit, they’ll quit,” Roper said. “But, maybe they just don’t know how to quit.”

Resources are available at the Army Wellness Center. Nicotine replacements like gums, lozenges, and patches can help with the transition. There are also medications for those cravings and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for stress and anxiety triggers.

Reach out today.

Help for quitting the habit

Army Wellness Center – Patch Barracks. Call 590-1601 or 06371-9464-1601.
Stuttgart Army Health Clinic – Patch Barracks. Call 590-2900 or 06371-9464-2900.

Download the Stuttgart Citizen app for access to online appointments.