Link 2 Hope-Training more tobacco treatment specialists to help people quit smoking

Link 2 Hope: Woman works to get people to quit smoking
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 4:20 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - February is National Cancer Prevention month.

Health experts say one way to reduce your risk of cancer is to not smoke.

In Kentucky, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services says about 8,000 people die each year of illnesses associated with smoking.

In this month’s Link to Hope, why one woman at the University of Kentucky has made it her mission to get more people to quit.

Audrey Darville has been a nurse practitioner for 25 years, she is passionate about one thing in particular, tobacco usage.

“Tobacco is the number one killer of people who use the product,” said Audrey Darville, APRN, Ph.D.

She watched her father smoke and the toll it took on his health, that led her down a path of finding a way to help people put down cigarettes and now vapes.

“We have historically been the number one in tobacco use and tobacco use prevalence in the nation, we have dipped down to number two in recent years,” said Darville.

Darville works with BREATHE (Bridging Research Efforts and Advocacy Toward Healthy Environments), a research group within the UK College of Nursing.

She says strides have been made in communities where smoke-free and tobacco-free policies are in place, but she is well aware of the hold nicotine still has on many Kentuckians.

“Tobacco use is not a habit, it’s an addiction, it’s an addiction to nicotine,” said Darville Darville knows that addiction is hard to break and says access to smoking cessation is crucial for people looking to quit.

In 2017 she helped create an online tobacco treatment specialist program to help train more people to help those wanting to stop smoking.

“When we developed this training program we had just a handful of people who specialized in tobacco treatment in the whole state of Kentucky. I think there were three or four of us across the state, we now have close to a hundred,” said Darville.

The program developed with Markey Cancer Center also works to help those undergoing cancer treatment.

Patients coming to Markey are asked about their tobacco use, ensuring that if they want to quit smoking, they have the tools to do so.

“It’s never too late to quit, never too late to quit you always benefit,” said Darville.

It’s a link to hope Audrey Darville says can make a big difference in the health of so many Kentuckians..

Darville says if you choose to quit smoking or vaping, get support. She also says to give yourself grace if you fail and then try again.

To get help, you can call the Quit Now Kentucky Hot Line at 800-QUIT NOW or text QUIT NOW KENTUCKY TO 333888.

For more information on Kentucky CancerLink click here.