- Associated Press - Saturday, January 6, 2018

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (AP) - Simple tasks were becoming more and more difficult for Jeff Jones. At 61, pulling the garbage can from the street to the top of his driveway tested both his breathing and stamina.

“I would have to stop and take a breath,” the Corydon resident said.

That is what 45 years of smoking cigarettes will do to you. But in 2016 he was determined to stop. Retired since 2011, he was concerned about his overall health and didn’t want to smoke around his great-granddaughter.

After 10 months of being smoke free, taking garbage to the curb is no big deal now. It’s been almost a year since Jones put the cigarettes away and since then his breathing has improved and so has his health. While he still suffers from COPD, which he was diagnosed with in 2010, Jones admits he feels better than he did a year ago.

“The main thing is the coughing. I haven’t had a coughing fit in a year,” he said. “I used to wake up everyone coughing. I’m breathing easier and they say my color is better.”

Jones said even after he retired in 2011, he and his wife traveled the country for two years in an RV and he would light up while driving, taking the dog for a walk or while sitting in front of the television.

According to the American Lung Association, smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States, causing more than 438,000 fatalities a year. It is also estimated secondhand smoke can be blamed for 41,000 deaths each year.

Jones tried to stop smoking on his own in 1999 and 2006, but after a few weeks was right back smoking again. One time his mood got so bad from quitting that his wife encouraged him to go back to smoking.

He decided for his third try to kick the habit that he needed some help. Once his mind was made up, he enrolled in Baptist Health Floyd’s Freedom From Smoking class sponsored by the American Lung Association. The program lasts one hour each week for seven weeks. It gave Jones the tools to stop smoking and a new lease on life.

Jones was no casual smoker.

He said he began smoking regularly at the age of 16. As a union iron worker, spending the majority of his workday outside, he averaged smoking two packs a day for years.

“I smoked all day,” he said.

But with changing some habits from not sitting in the same chair at home, in front of the television, and with the help of the drug Chantix, Jones said he has had no relapses since smoking his last cigarette. He admits he has gained 20 pounds, but said that is his next challenge to lose the weight.

Rebecca Didelot and Carla Christie, registered nurses who are coordinators for Baptist Health Floyd’s Community Initiative and oversee the Freedom From Smoking class, said Jones is a walking example of how the program works.

“We look at why they started smoking and why they smoke now,” Didelot said. “Stress, habits … what makes them pick up that cigarette or pipe.”

The program helps smokers gain control of their behavior, and with the help of a nicotine patch or another drug, most are able to put the cigarettes away for good. Jones‘ freedom from smoking day occurred on Feb. 14, 2017. And his feat has not gone unnoticed to those around him. He hopes his journey rubs off on others.

“Everyone in my family has quit. I do have a bother-in-law who is fighting it,” he said. “I would tell people who want to quit to talk to Carla and Rebecca. If you don’t know what it is about, those two will help you out. They have everything you need.”

A new Freedom From Smoking class begins Jan. 9 at the hospital.

“Most people try seven times to stop smoking, and at the first of the year it’s big because people want to get healthy,” Christie said.

Didelot said the class asks smokers to bring a family member at first, “so they can encourage them at home.”

“It’s scary to walk in by yourself,” she said.

Christie added that “support is a big component” of the program.

Christie said at the end of the program graduates receive a certificate of completion for insurance purposes. Many life or health insurance policies want proof that the insured has kicked the habit.

For Jones, there is no going back. He wants to live a full life and knows the only way to do that is to stay away from cigarettes.

“I feel good now,” he said.

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Source: News and Tribune

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Information from: News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind., http://www.newsandtribune.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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