Whether it’s cigarettes or chewing tobacco, tobacco usage is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including an estimated 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure.

World No Tobacco Day is May 31 this year and Cox Medical Center Branson is observing the day by doing what they do every day of the year, encouraging people to kick the habit and by offering services and support to make that happen.

“Any time is a great time to quit! Branson’s smoke-free ordinance goes into effect July 1. World No Tobacco Day on Sunday, May 31, is a great day to begin your journey of breathing easier and enjoying a healthier life,” said Mayo Clinic Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist Jim Brawner.

Branson’s smoke-free ordinance for public and workplaces was passed by aldermen in October 2014. The new requirements are intended to protect the health of residents, visitors, patrons and workers against the dangers of tobacco smoke, including second-hand smoke.

CoxHealth has been a leader in the smoke-free movement and has been taking steps for years to protect the health and wellness of our patients, employees and community. In September 2006, Cox Branson became a smoke-free campus. In November 2013, CoxHealth became the first health system in the Ozarks to no longer hire tobacco users.

Tobacco users who are ready to take the next step to becoming tobacco-free themselves do not have to quit alone. Brawner teaches a highly successful Freedom from Smoking class that consists of eight one-hour sessions.

“I think the reason it is so successful is the fact that this program merges the best of the American Lung Association, which is the gold standard in Freedom from Smoking, with the incredible council you get from the Mayo Clinic and their certification program,” said Brawner. “At CoxHealth, our mission is to improve the health of the communities we serve and by offering this class, we’ve been able to dramatically improve the health of more than 100 of our friends and neighbors here in Branson area.”

The Freedom from Smoking class is $80 per person and the fee includes a workbook as well as up to $50 in nicotine replacement therapy. Scholarships are available through the Skaggs Foundation. To register for an upcoming Freedom from Smoking class in Taney or Stone counties, call Brawner at 417-348-8498. For information about tobacco cessation support in Springfield, call 417-269-4847 or in Monett, call 417-354-1100.

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