'Quit Squads' Talk to Employees and Visitors Who Smoke About Quitting
January 31, 2012
Santa Clara County, CA. - You may have seen them on the Santa Clara Valley
Medical Center campus. Maybe you saw them at one of the other locations where County of Santa Clara employees work. For about 6 weeks at the end of 2011 our “Quit Squads” were out talking to people about quitting smoking.
The Quit Squads have been one of the activities taken on by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, Employee Wellness, Valley Health Plan, the Mental Health Department, the Department of Alcohol & Drug Services, and the Santa Clara Valley Health & Hospital System. The Quit Squad Program was started to make sure County employees and visitors knew about resources to help them quit smoking.
Quit Squads, made up of 2 to 3 employees per Squad, wear specially made t-shirts and give out “Quit Kits”. Most importantly, they talk to other employees, really anyone who they encountered who was smoking, to let them know about resources to stop smoking.
Did You Know:
- About 1 in 10 adults and youth in Santa Clara County smoke.
- About $380 million a year is spent in tobacco related healthcare costs in Santa Clara County.
- Among kids in Santa Clara County who smoke, age 13 is the most common age to start.
- More than 2 in 5 households in Santa Clara County who allow cigarette smoking inside the house have kids 6 years of age and younger.
- In Santa Clara County, smokers report nearly twice the rate of ‘ever had stroke’ and ‘have asthma’ relative to non-smokers.
If the smoker was willing, members of the Quit Squad talked with them about the benefits of a smoke-free lifestyle. Squad members found that giving and going through the Quit Kit was very helpful. The Quit Kits are lunch containers. The outside of the container is printed with a positive message, and inside the smoker would find a flyer, mints, gum and educational materials. Information about quitting is an important part of each Kit. Smokers were offered Quit Kits to take back to fellow employees who also smoked as a way to get valuable information and resources to more people.
While the effort was focused on Health & Hospital System employees, sometimes the people Quit Squads talked with were not employees. Since the idea was to get more people to stop smoking, these smokers were offered resources to help them quit, including information about the benefits of Nicotine Replacement Therapies, which are available through Breathe California.
You might be thinking being part of a Quit Squad would be a negative experience. Not so according to Quit Squad organizer and leader, Thomas Chin.
“Sometimes approaching an active smoker and talking to them about quitting was uncomfortable,” stated Mr. Chin, Public Health Department employee. ”But over time we found that in about 75% of the encounters, the response to the Quit Squad was positive.”
While about 10% of the smokers wouldn’t talk to the Quit Squads, and another 15% of them took the information and let it be known they wouldn’t be quitting, other smokers told the Quit Squads that they had tried to quit before and needed help and motivation to try again. A number of smokers said they planned to quit as a part of their 2012 New Years resolution. Many smokers told the Squads that they appreciated the information because they found it confusing to try to figure out, based on their health plan, what stop smoking resources were available to them. The Quit Squads were able to address these issues for every person who was interested and talked with them.
By provided health plan specific information to employees, the Quit Squad Program has provided valuable stop smoking resources, eliminated confusion and made it easier for smokers who are ready to quit get the appropriate resources for support.
County of Santa Clara employees call Employee Wellness at 408.299.5825.
Santa Clara Valley Medical Center patients call 408.793.2780.
Valley Health Plan members call 408.793.2780.
Everyone else can call Breathe California at 408.998.5865 or No Butts Hotline at 1.800.662.8887.