Smoking is a well-known cause for a lot of diseases and can shorten lifespan by up to 16 years, yet many people find it difficult to quit smoking. Smoking contributes significantly as a risk factor towards heart and lung disease.
IJN being the premier cardiovascular and thoracic centre made it its responsibility to educate heart patients on the risks involved, complement the patients’ treatment and rehabilitation and help the smokers quit smoking. IJN started its own Quit Smoking Clinic (QSC) in February 2008.
Clinics are conducted by experienced senior nursing professionals from the Patient Counselling Department and Heart Failure Unit of the Cardiology Department. Clients include those referred by doctors or those who themselves are keen to quit smoking and needed assistance to do so.
The aim of the Clinic is to create awareness on the negative effects of smoking and helping smokers deal with all aspects of their addiction to nicotine. Nicotine dependence is the reason why clients’ are unable to quit even when they want to. Nicotine is highly addictive and it can be very difficult to quit smoking, especially without help.
Clients in the quit smoking programme are evaluated on a case by case basis depending on various factors including their medical condition and their level of desire to quit. Apart from providing counselling and motivation, the experienced nursing professionals assess the lifestyle of the clients and provide information on types of treatment and medication available the form of Nicotine and Non-Nicotine replacement therapy. Carbon monoxide analysis is carried out and the appropriate treatment is recommended.
The main objective is to assist the clients to successfully quit smoking. Clients who want to quit but are unable to, are frustrated by the “start-stop-start” smoking cycle. 95% of people who try to quit without any help were unsuccessful and the average smoker takes about 5-7 attempts to quit before they are really successful. In line with this, IJN had taken a step forward to start its own Quit Smoking Support Group. The group would meet once every 2 months, when new clients and a number of successful ‘quitters’ are invited for the sessions. At the first session held on March 2011, fellow participants and successful quitters shared their experiences and motivate each other to succeed. When they find it a struggle to give up smoking and felt like quitting the program, it becomes more meaningful when they see people in the same situation who has successfully quit the habit. This acts as a motivation as well as a challenge to them.
Each year the Clinic holds a public forum on quit smoking during which successful quitters referred to as ‘Graduates’ are presented with certificates of achievement.
The Quit Smoking Clinic also undertakes outreach programmes especially when requested by the public and private sector organisations who wish to promote quit smoking amongst their staff or members. Personnel from the Clinic also participates in IJN’s Corporate Social Initiatives CSI programmes in various parts of the country when the Quit Smoking group educates the general public on the risks associated with smoking and how they can quit the habit.
The Quit Smoking Clinic is conducted every Tuesday to Thursday from 10.30am to 12.30pm and from 2.30pm to 4.30pm
The Quit Smoking Clinic Team:
Left to right: Lim Siew Suan, Khoo Soon Gaik, Dr Aizai Azan, Hafishah Saad