Published on November 21, 2019

Bryant Bell's success with Freedom From Smoking®

By Renee Beasley Jones, Messenger Inquirer

Bryant Bell breaking cigarettes
Bryant Bell holds a handful of broken cigarettes in the lobby of the Owensboro Health Healthpark Wednesday in Owensboro. After smoking for 30 years, Bell has been smoke-free for 20 months.

Breathing difficulties and other health problems were Bryant Bell's warning signs.

Bell, who smoked two packs a day for years, wanted to quit. Not only did the habit affect his health, it took a bite out of his bank account. He estimates smoking cost him at least $300 a month.

In an effort to kiss smoking goodbye, he enrolled in five or six smoking cessation classes. They always ended the same way.

"By the time I got out in the parking lot, I was smoking again," the Owensboro man said.

Then, in February 2018, he tried Owensboro Health's Freedom From Smoking® program.

He hasn't smoked since.

Thursday, Nov. 21, is the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout, an annual event that encourages smokers to quit.

OH and Green River District Health Department partnered recently to produce a video that will be released Thursday in honor of the Great American Smokeout. The video targets e-cigarette use.

Bell, 61, started smoking in 1982, when he was stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army.

After decades of smoking, quitting proved to be a challenge. He tried Chantix and Wellbutrin.

Like prior smoking cessation classes, prescription drugs failed, too.

Bell credits his success to the support OH's Freedom From Smoking® program offers.

The health system started offering the smoking cessation classes four years ago.

The seven-week program meets once weekly for an hour. Classes are free to the public.

A session recently ended, said Shiloh Fisher, OH health and wellness specialist. The next one begins with an informational program at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 14 at the Healthpark. Classes will begin again the following week.

Through the Quitline -- 1-800-QUIT NOW -- participants have access to a free nicotine replacement kit.

"They also offer free coaching if people want it," Fisher said of the Quitline. "They will help you as little or as much as you want."

During OH's Freedom From Smoking® classes, Fisher calls participants within 48 hours after they quit smoking. After that, she stays in touch with them weekly.

"They also set up a buddy system in class," she said. "...That's in case someone doesn't have support at home."

Those personal relationships made all the difference, Bell said, especially during the first 48 hours.

Since he quit smoking, his health has improved.

"Food tastes a lot better," Bell said.

In fact, that's how he rewarded himself for quitting. Part of the money he used to spend on cigarettes pays for regular visits to area restaurants. The experience is far more enjoyable now that his taste buds have recovered.

Fisher, who has been involved with OH's Freedom From Smoking® program a couple of years, knows of at least 26 participants who have quit smoking.

Visit the Freedom From Smoking® page to enroll in the upcoming class or call Fisher at 270-688-3291.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com.

About Owensboro Health

Owensboro Health is a nonprofit health system with a mission to heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities it serves in Kentucky and Indiana. The system includes Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, nationally recognized for design, architecture and engineering; Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital, the Owensboro Health Medical Group comprised of over 200 providers at more than 20 locations; three outpatient Healthplex facilities, a certified medical fitness facility, the Healthpark; a surgical weight loss center and program, and the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center.

On average each year, we have 16,000 inpatient admissions, deliver 2,000 babies and provide the region’s only Level III NICU. Owensboro Health physicians perform nearly 24,000 surgical procedures, including nearly 200 open-heart surgeries. Our physicians and staff have 70,000 Emergency Department visits, more than a million outpatient visits annually. Visit our home page for more information.