Fox Chase Cancer Center's Tobacco Treatment keys to quit smoking

6abc Digital Staff Image
Monday, December 18, 2023
Support, coping skills, knowing why one smokes are keys to quitting
Fox Chase Tobacco Treatment program offers cancer patients and other smokers the tools and support to stop tobacco or vaping.

To stop smoking is always a top New Year's resolution.

However, it's often hard to make it happen.

Fox Chase Cancer Center's Tobacco Treatment program incorporates fresh approaches to reach more smokers and give them more support in reducing or quitting their tobacco habit.

America's cigarette smoking rate may be half what it was 20 years ago.

But with 30 million people now vaping, nicotine addiction is still a major health problem.

Experts at Fox Chase Cancer Center say anyone trying to quit shouldn't go it alone.

Find an individualized plan, like the Tobacco Treatment Program.

The first step there is understanding each smoker.

"What's your relationship with your cigarettes? How do you feel about it? Some people will tell us it's their best friend. Some people will say that they absolutely do not like it anymore. They don't want to do it." says Donna Edmondson, CRNP, the program's Clinical Director

They also ask if they've tried to quit before?

What nicotine replacement products have they used?

Many who fail only use one product at a time, not in combination.

"Say the nicotine patch with the Nicorette gum, the nicotine gum, or the patch with the nicotine lozenges," notes Edmondson.

"What problems are they encountering in using those?" says Linda Fleisher, Ph.D., MPH, a research professor at Fox Chase.

The team works to educate, free of judgment.

"This is an addiction. It's not just a habit. It's not just a behavior. It's an addiction," says Edmondson.

That's a critical message, especially for cancer patients.

"Even if you are on chemotherapy, reducing or stopping use of tobacco can actually improve outcomes," Fleisher emphasizes.

Smoking can slow wound healing after surgery, increase side effects from chemotherapy, and decrease the cancer cells radiation kills.

The program has a year-long individual component or a five-week community session.

With the help of funds from the Cancer Moonshot Initiative, it has expanded to enroll patients across the Temple Health system, as well as from the general community.

It is piloting a new approach incorporating trained tobacco navigators, who meet with patients in between sessions with tobacco specialists like Edmondson.

It is adjusted to specific needs, like menthol smokers.

One major goal is to reach more who vape, because that's harder to shake.

For one thing, nicotine levels in vapes are unregulated, so it's hard to provide the right level of nicotine replacement.

Vapes are also used differently.

"They have it in their hand, so they can use it all the time. And the frequency is more than if they were smoking the cigarettes," notes Edmondson.

The Tobacco Treatment Program is open to anyone using tobacco, not just Fox Chase Cancer patients.

Call 1-800-Fox-Chase to schedule an appointment.