As part of its prevention efforts as a Maine District Tobacco Prevention Partner, Mid Coast Hospital has launched a new tobacco prevention and treatment program. The BeFree Tobacco Prevention & Treatment program seeks to prevent all types of tobacco use, including e-cigarettes, among youth, prevent exposure to secondhand smoke in public places and provide treatment for those who use tobacco.

District Tobacco Prevention Partners (DTPP) are part of a statewide Maine Prevention Services initiative coordinated by the MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence and funded by the Maine Center for Disease Control. Mid Coast has been a DTPP since 2016.

BeFree supports Midcoast community members in their efforts to quit using tobacco by increasing community awareness of resources available to assist with quit attempts and offering free tobacco cessation counseling. Mid Coast Hospital tobacco treatment specialists work with BeFree participants to create a personal quit plan, discuss available medications, and educate them about local, state, and national resources.

“Our BeFree tobacco treatment program not only gives people tools to quit tobacco, but also a plan tailored to their lifestyles, and perhaps most importantly, the support and encouragement they need to be successful,” said Cate Parker, director of Community Health and Wellness for Mid Coast–Parkview Health, in a news release. Parker oversees the BeFree tobacco treatment services.

Tobacco treatment support has been available through Mid Coast Hospital for over 20 years and is now coordinated by the Mid Coast Center for Community Health & Wellness. Recently, Mid Coast has increased the number of staff trained in tobacco treatment to better meet the needs of patients and community members.

The launch of the BeFree program also coincides with the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout (GASO) on November 21. The Great American Smokeout is an annual intervention event, held on the third Thursday of November, with a goal of helping the more than 34 million American smokers to quit.

According to the American Cancer Society, smoking causes an estimated 480,000 deaths every year, or about 1 in 5 deaths overall, and more than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease. Quitting smoking is the number one thing tobacco users can do to improve their health.

In addition to counseling, participants of the BeFree program also receive a quit kit containing a quit journal and free resources to help them quit, such as the Maine Tobacco Helpline, a free phone line (1-800-207-1230) that answers questions and offers support to people thinking about quitting or who are ready to quit.

“We are hopeful and excited to help build a healthier community through the BeFree initiative,” said Melissa Fochesato, director of Community Health Promotion and supervisor of the BeFree prevention activities. “We are proud to offer technical assistance and support to our community, encouraging healthy environments for all.”

For more information about BeFree or other tobacco resources, visit www.midcoasthealth.com/be-free. To schedule an appointment with a tobacco treatment specialist, please call (207) 373-6585

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: