Smoking Cessation Program Changes Lives

Susan has been a smoker since elementary school. She tried to quite on and off for over 30 years but never found success.  Susan lamented that, “it was difficult to stop because my husband was also a smoker, so there was always temptation in my house.”  With funding from the Swedish Covenant Hospital Foundation, the Smoking Cessation Program at Swedish Covenant Hospital has helped Susan and her husband finally end their relationship with cigarettes.

The woman behind this successful program is Carol Southard, RN, MSN, a tobacco treatment specialist, who provides the only hospital-based Smoking Cessation program in the city. This comprehensive, 8-week program combines group support sessions, relaxation and stress management strategies, nutrition and exercise advice and individualized interventions to help smokers quit tobacco.  With over 30 years of experience, Carol touts a 50+% success rate one-year post treatment by removing the guilt that smokers feel; focusing instead on health benefits and strategies for coping despite the desire and inevitable triggers.

For Susan and her husband, this approach was life-changing.  “I have tried to stop on and off for years, but Carol finally provided us with strategies and guidance that worked. We have now found hobbies to do instead of smoking; my husband cooks up a storm and my hobby is knitting and jewelry-making.”

The medical staff at SCH is also supportive of Carol and the Smoking Cessation program.  As Dr. Michael Shao, Vascular Surgeon, recounts,

“I am so grateful that the Foundation is supporting our Smoking Cessation Program.  It provides a critical service to our patients and really improves the health of our patients individually and the community as a whole.  Smoking is an under-recognized problem.  Much more attention is paid to the opioid crisis – which is also important- but smoking has an even greater impact on people and our society.”

Carol agrees, “Statistically, it’s more difficult to control the addiction of nicotine than heroin, cocaine or alcohol. The hardest part for most smokers is, how do I get through my day without a cigarette?” This program uses a comprehensive approach of cognitive and behavioral methods to create successful quitters. As Carol states, “It’s never too late to quit; No matter how long you’ve smoked, no matter how many cigarettes a day, no matter how many years, you benefit by quitting, and I help people do that.”

A new Smoking Cessation Session begins Tuesday, January 15, 2018. For more information or to register, visit or call 773-878-6888. To donate, please contact the Foundation at or 773-293-5121.

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