FOR RELEASE: 9/14/2011Contact: John Cappiello, (203) 384-3637

Fairfielder kicks the habit with help from Bridgeport Hospital; Next session of smoking cessation program starts Nov. 1

Fairfield resident Bill Carey spent more than 50 years on and off—but mostly on—as a cigarette smoker. Then one day, the former publishing company and financial management executive says, “a switch in my head went off.”

“I was tired of always being under the gun to make sure I didn’t run out of cigarettes,” says Bill, who is now 70 years old with three grandchildren. “And I was tired of the expense.”

Although he had tried unsuccessfully to kick the nicotine habit before, Bill decided to make one more attempt, this time enrolling in Bridgeport Hospital’s Quit Smart smoking cessation program.

Quit Smart is a four-week program that weans smokers off cigarettes slowly, rather than “cold turkey,” as some other programs do.

“That’s what did it for me—not being forced to quit immediately,” Bill says. “The other important part of the program was the supportive atmosphere of the group and the camaraderie I developed with others who were also trying to quit smoking.”

Respiratory therapist Gretchen May-Fendo, the Quit Smart coordinator, agrees that the group effort adds to the program’s effectiveness.

“People become concerned for one another and share tips for success.” May-Fendo says.

The Quit smart program changes participants’ cigarette brands so over time they are smoking a cigarette with less nicotine and one they most likely will not like. This helps with the cessation process, May-Fendo says. Another important component of Quit Smart is education.

“Teaching people about the areas of their dependency—not just physical but behavioral and psychological—helps them understand the ‘whole habit,’” she says. “The more informed they are and the better they understand their own personal addiction, the better their results.”

The fee for Quit Smart is $75, which Bill says didn’t bother him. “Making a financial commitment helps people stick with the program,” he says.

Now smoke-free for two years, Bill says his health has clearly improved. “My blood pressure is down and I can breathe, taste and smell better,” he says. “And that means enjoying things like fishing more.”

The next session of Quit Smart is scheduled for Tuesdays, Nov. 1, 15, 22 and 29, 6:00–7:30 p.m., in the duPont Board Room at Bridgeport Hospital, 267 Grant Street. For information or to register, call 1-888-357-2396.

“The timing of this session coincides with the Great American Smokeout, which this year falls on Nov. 17, right after the second session in the series, the one when participants actually give up smoking,” says May-Fendo. “That’s why we’re promoting it with the challenge to be smoke-free by the Smokeout.”

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Part of Yale New Haven Health System, Bridgeport Hospital is a 383-bed acute care hospital (plus 42 beds licensed to Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital) serving parts of Fairfield and New Haven counties. The hospital admits more than 18,000 patients and receives more than 240,000 outpatient visits annually.