Franklin County Public Health Launches Countywide Tobacco Cessation Program

COLUMBUS – Franklin County Public Health, in partnership with the Franklin County Tobacco Free Collaborative and several area public, nonprofit and healthcare agencies, has launched a new tobacco cessation program to help Franklin County residents kick the habit.

Called the Community Cessation Initiative (CCI), the program will provide free and accessible tobacco cessation services to any Franklin County resident, but it is specifically targeting pregnant women, people of low socioeconomic status and individuals with mental health issues. Funded by a grant from the Ohio Department of Health, CCI will run through October 2020. The health department’s goal is to get 15 percent of the county’s more than 175,000 tobacco users to participate in the program between now and then.

“Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the world,” said Joe Mazzola, Franklin County Health Commissioner “We want to give people the help and support they need to quit because people who stop smoking greatly reduce their risk of disease and early death.”

CCI’s theme, “Now Is the Time,” reinforces the benefits of quitting now. Posters, flyers and other collateral material will carry messages such as “Now is the time to save money,” “Now is the time to get healthy” and “Now is the time to have a healthy baby.”

The health department announced the launch of the program at a reception April 30 at Poindexter Place, a public housing complex run by the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority. CMHA, one of the participating organizations in CCI, will prohibit smoking in its properties beginning July 30, 2018. Participating in CCI gives the housing authority a mechanism to help residents comply with the new rule.

“We’re excited to be a partner in CCI because we think it’s an outstanding program,” said Sonja Nelson, Assistant Vice President for Client Services and Quality Improvement at the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority. “The participants are placed in cessation programs that best fit their needs, giving them the best shot at success.”

Fifteen nonprofit and healthcare agencies, including the housing authority, are participating in CCI by referring their clients to the program or by providing the tobacco cessation services.

Franklin County residents who want to participate can call Franklin County Public Health at 833.224.7848 to sign up. If they’re a client of one of the partner agencies, they can sign up through the agency, as well. Based on information participants provide during a short intake process, the health department will match them with a cessation provider that best meets their needs. Factors such as location, class times and class sizes will be considered when pairing participants and cessation providers.

“Tobacco use, namely cigarette smoking, causes one in five deaths each year in the United States,” Mazzola said. “It’s a public health issue. That’s why programs like the Community Cessation Initiative are so important.”