Six-week series of classes will begin April 2

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FARMINGTON — The San Juan Regional Medical Center is presenting a six-week program to help local smokers kick tobacco addictions.

The Freedom From Smoking program, an American Lung Association program, is “the leading smoking cessation program in America,” according to a press release from the Farmington hospital.

The program consists of a six-week series of classes led by Andrea Palmgren, a registered respiratory therapist in Farmington. Participants will learn how to quit smoking in a “safe, supportive environment (that offers) the tools and the resources you need to overcome your tobacco addiction,” the release states.

The program is individualized to a smoker’s addiction and needs, and the series is limited to 12 participants “in order to provide better one-on-one support,” according to the release.

Classes will be held at 6 p.m. on Mondays from April 2 through May 15, with an additional class at 7 p.m. on April 18, according to the release. All classes will be held in San Juan Regional Heart Center’s Conference Room in Farmington.

Hospital spokeswoman Laura Werbner said four participants had registered by Friday afternoon.

There is a $25 supply fee for the program, and participants can register at sanjuanregional.com/freedom-from-smoking.

This is the first year the hospital has presented the national program. Werbner said Palmgren plans to offer more sessions in the future, and their frequency will depend on public interest in the program.

In New Mexico, smokers made up 16.6 percent of the general adult population in 2016, according to New Mexico Department of Health’s Indicator-Based Information System. The state rate is down from the 2011 rate of 21.5 percent, and is less than the 2016 national average of 17.1 percent.

Smoking is the leading behavioral cause of death in the United States, according to the health department’s IBIS website. Many smokers pick up the habit during adolescence, as more than 80 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before the age of 18.

Local schools have participated or will participate in anti-tobacco use campaigns in March.

The international Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids hosts an annual Kick Butts Day, which fell on March 21 this year, according to a press release from state health department’s tobacco use prevention and control and tobacco-free initiatives called Evolvement and 24/7 New Mexico.

Students at Gallup High School and Newcomb High School participated in Kick Butts Day events on March 14, and Navajo Preparatory School will present events next week, according to 24/7 New Mexico campaign manager Ashley Wagner. Local students participated in advance of or after the official Kick Butts Day, as Four Corner schools were out on spring break on March 21.

More than 200 students in schools throughout the state are active members of Evolvement, the youth-led tobacco use prevention and control program, Wagner said.

Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621 or mpetersen@daily-times.com.

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