More Soldiers in the Battle Against Tobacco

By Monique I. Cuvelier

The fight against smoking, chewing, and vaping just became a little fiercer.

From April 4-10, front-line health workers refined their health education skills via the online course Supporting Tobacco Cessation.

The course was sponsored by CHWTraining, a health care-focused division of Boston-based educational company Talance, Inc., and was produced in observance of National Public Health Week and offered at no charge. The weeklong, interactive course was facilitated by tobacco-cessation health educator Mary Etna Haac. She guided participants through practical tips and strategies they can use in their efforts to help more people quit or reduce using tobacco.

National Public Health Week logo

“[Supporting Tobacco Cessation was] very interesting,” said participant Ana Rubiano, a certified community health worker in an agricultural region of Florida who helps patients control diabetes, cancer, obesity, and other chronic illnesses and preventable diseases. “It let me learn new things to help the community. The facilitator’s communication was so good.”

Topics included a look at the biology of addiction, types of tobacco products, and the health effects of using tobacco. The program also provides common barriers to stopping and how to address those barriers through such methodologies as Stages of Change, the 5 R’s (Relevance, Risks, Rewards, Roadblocks, and Repetition), and the 5 A’s (Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, and Arrange). Students were given a chance to try out their new skills in interactive activities and through forum discussions with Haac and other participants.

Tobacco Case Studies screenshot

An important part of the course is the Quit Day Action Kit, a set of handouts, resources, and tools that participants take with them to use with clients and patients. It includes methods to cope with triggers and withdrawal symptoms, journals and worksheets for planning for Quit Day, and tips on how to cope with stress, slips, and relapses. The kit combines with the Tobacco Cessation Toolbox, which contains additional local resources to use on the job.

The online class, which hosted approximately 20 individuals from states including California, Maryland, Nevada, and more, is part of a catalog of courses from CHWTraining that focus on providing essential skills in changing community health outcomes. Students ranged from community health workers and case managers to registered nurses and health educators.

[This article is for publication in The Nation's Health from APHA.]

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