PUBLISHED: 7:35 PM on Wednesday, November 14, 2007
SEARHC celebrates annual Great American Smokeout
SITKA - The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium tobacco prevention program will celebrate the 31st Annual Great American Smokeout with the launch of a new collaborative program between SEARHC and Sitka Community Hospital to provide tobacco cessation services for all Sitka residents.

SEARHC also will celebrate the Great American Smokeout, which takes place on Thursday, Nov. 15, with informational events at several SEARHC facilities throughout the region.

The new collaborative program between SEARHC and Sitka Community Hospital provides up to three months of free nicotine replacement therapy (patches, gum or lozenges) to help with withdrawal symptoms, and includes coaching by a trained SEARHC tobacco treatment specialist.

Coaching and nicotine replacement therapy can double the chance of successfully quitting tobacco.

People wanting to use this service can call the program directly or they can be referred by their health care provider.

"Working with Sitka Community Hospital on this collaborative project has been great," said Andrea Thomas, SEARHC Tobacco Project Manager. "Broadening the scope of who we can serve in Sitka will help all people to quit the tough addiction of tobacco. I think the citizens of Sitka showed a lot of foresight in creating a tobacco tax to help fund Sitka Community Hospital and tobacco cessation services in the community."

The new program will launch with a "cold turkey" luncheon at noon at the Sitka Community Hospital classroom, featuring free turkey sandwiches and other goodies.

Informational tables about tobacco and secondhand smoke will be placed in the Sitka Community Hospital classroom and in the SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital main lobby on Nov. 15.

In addition to the events in Sitka, there will be several Great American Smokeout celebrations at SEARHC facilities throughout the region.

In Juneau, an information table will be up from Nov. 9-23 in the clinic lobby at the SEARHC Juneau Medical Center, with refreshments from 10 a.m. to noon on Nov. 15.

Informational tables also will be set up on Nov. 15 in the lobbies of the SEARHC Haines Health Center, the SEARHC Kake Health Center, the SEARHC Alicia Roberts Medical Center in Klawock, and the SEARHC Angoon Health Center.

The Great American Smokeout is a national event, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, that takes place on the third Thursday of November each year.

The purpose of the Smokeout is to encourage smokers to quit for a day in the hope that they might be able to quit for good.

For more information and help quitting tobacco, call the SEARHC tobacco prevention program during regular business hours at 1-907-966-8721 or toll-free within Alaska at 1-888-966-8875.

The Alaska Tobacco Quit Line also offers free support and nicotine replacement therapy.

The Alaska Quit Line can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-842-QUIT (1-888-842-7848).