"We are facilitators through the American Lung Association's 'Freedom From Smoking' program," said Cindy London, BBA, RRT, director of respiratory therapy at Piedmont Mountainside Hospital.
"It's one of the most successful programs out there."
How it works:
"The first thing is you must decide you want to quit," said London
"It sounds really simple, but I have had folks who haven't decided and they usually drop out.
You have to decide."
said most participants are shocked to learn they aren't expected to quit smoking after their first class.
"If you don't know how to swim, an instructor is not going to throw you in the water," said London
"First, we discover what their trigger points are for smoking.
We give them tools on how to avoid smoking and redirect themselves.
People who quit cold turkey can be setting themselves up for failure."
By week three, the class is ready to stop smoking.
will bring a "big, ugly black box" to class during the third week so students can deposit items like ashtrays, cigarettes they haven't smoked and even "goodbye letters" to cigarettes.
Each week, participants are encouraged to share their stories of both struggle and success.
They often provide advice to one another.
also invites graduates of the program to come in and share their stories.
"Those people are very engaged and know what current attendees are going through," said London
As soon as they quit smoking, people in the class often notice immediate benefits.
"They start to smell things they didn't smell before, food tastes better, they all look refreshed," said London
"I tell them they look younger, because it's the truth."
Those who quit smoking keep their eyes on the prize, whether it's reducing long-term healthcare costs or watching their grandchildren grow up.
The clinic's approach doesn't use criticism or scare tactics to discourage smoking.
"We focus on what makes you want to pick up a cigarette and how you can stop doing that," said London