Support group helps you kick the habit

In anticipation of the new laws that go into effect January 2, the Vanderburgh County Health Department has listed all the local smoking cessation resources on its Web site.

There are classes, patches and even a support group that has proven effective. Just ask its members.

Karen Woods and her daughter, Tacy Adams, can take the kids to the pool these days without having to go outside for a smoke break. Both started when they were 16 years old.

"It was fun for a while. Then, I got addicted to it," admits Tacy.

Karen adds, "It was popular back in my day."

Nowadays, it's very unpopular. So after 30 years, Karen decided enough was enough. "It was very difficult. In fact, it was probably the hardest thing I ever did."

She did it with the help of prescription Wellbutrin and a support group that meets Monday nights at Evansville's Barnes and Noble.

Even though, Karen hasn't picked up a cigarette in eight years, she still goes to the meetings. "To help other people and to keep myself accountable, too, because one of the guys said, 'You're just a puff away from three packs a day.' And that's the truth."

She ended up sharing that wisdom with someone very special - her daughter.

Tacy started going to the meetings a year later when she decided to quit. "Being around the people and asking them what helped them and using some of their methods to cope and calling, 'I need a cigarette!' And they're like, 'No, you don't.'"

The Vanderburgh County Health Department is offering support, too, with free smoking cessation classes. Its Web site even tells you how you can get a six week supply of nicotine patches.

Karen and Tacy say it's smart to use all the help you can get.

"If you say one New Year's Eve, I'm going to quit without a plan, sometimes that works. But a lot of times that doesn't work. So if it doesn't work, come to our support group next Monday. We'll give you all the tips and everything on how to stick with it," says Karen.

The support group at Barnes and Noble on Green River Road meets at 6:30 on Monday nights.