November 10, 2011

Dayani Center ready to help smokers quit

Featured Image

Among the many tools Barbara Forbes, MSN, uses to help people kick the habit is a large jar of tar, foreground, that represents the amount of tar a smoker will ingest in a year. (photo by Joe Howell)

Dayani Center ready to help smokers quit

Barbara Forbes, MSN, keeps a big jar of tar on her desk.

The dark, goopy mess is a visual representation of the amount of tar that a smoker will ingest by smoking one pack of cigarettes per day for a year.

Forbes is the director of the Smoking Cessation Institute at the Vanderbilt Dayani Center for Health and Wellness, and she’s gearing up for the 36th Great American Smokeout on Thursday, Nov. 17. The nationwide event sponsored by the American Cancer Society gives smokers a date to plan to stop using tobacco.

“Quitting smoking is a two-step process,” explained Forbes. “There’s the quitting and then there is the process of staying off.”

Forbes offers an eight-step tobacco cessation program for clients and combines behavioral therapy with medication to help individuals end the addictive habit. Patients are often referred by physicians who specialize in heart or cancer care, or clients may contact the Dayani Center themselves if they’re thinking about ending their smoking habit.

“I don’t want a patient to come in and decide they want to quit in that moment, because they’re probably not ready to quit,” said Forbes, who combines health coaching techniques as well as psychology during the sessions.

Clients work on the psychological issues first, then come in and smoke their last cigarette outside her office, which is a neutral zone. By the end of the eight sessions, about 60 percent of smokers have quit. After a year, the rate drops to about 35 percent.

Forbes says ending the dependence on such an addictive substance isn’t easy.

“It is not unusual for smokers to relapse several times before they go ahead and quit, so we are open to having them come back and learn something new,” said Forbes.

She is able to draw on her own experience while working with patients. She was a three-pack-a-day smoker for years and quit cold turkey — her only option in the years before there were medications to help.

She remembers the uncomfortable side effects, but she also remembers that they passed with time.

“Having been on both sides of the fence, I like being a nonsmoker much more than I enjoyed smoking.”

The smoking cessation classes may be covered by some insurance plans. For more information about the classes, call the Vanderbilt Dayani Center at 322-4751.