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CAO continues to push cessation, Wright discusses benefits

The Workforce Solutions and Community Development arm of Community Action Organization of Scioto County (CAO) has been advocating for smoking cessation as a new year’s resolution since 2024 landed.


Months into the year, they continue to advocate for the goal, saying it isn’t too late to make 2024 the year you stop smoking or utilizing nicotine products, whether they be cigarettes, electronic delivery systems, or chewing tobacco.


CAO leads the Scioto County Smoking Cessation Coalition, which operates a five-year strategic plan, regular media plans, a youth coalition, various annual activities, and more. They’ve been leading this cause for over two years and have had success in getting people to commit to tobacco abstinence through many mentioned activities.


One major tool they utilize in pushing cessation lies in support networks like the Quit Line and the My Life My Quit program for youth. According to the Ohio Department of Health, those utilizing the Quit Line are 27 percent more likely to succeed.


According to CAO’s Business and Community Development Manager Joseph Pratt, the Quit Line is a free resource that a provides online or telephone coaching opportunities that come with many benefits, including tobacco replacement products including patches, lozenges, and gum. 


“The facts are there; those who pair nicotine replacement products with the skilled coaching of the Quit Line are greater positioned for success,” Pratt said. “When you look at those with greater risks for smoking, it is obvious that those in lower socioeconomic, vulnerable communities are aggressively marketed to, as well as those who have had less education opportunities, minority communities, and other susceptible individuals. This is especially true when you consider the point of sale is kind of the final frontier for marketing at all and poorer communities are ripe with convenience stores that accept signage and put products on highly visible displays. Offering these replacement products for free is a great way to get people to commit to healthier lifestyles and the Quit Line is a fantastic tool to receive these items without the expense.”


Pratt said that his team has registered many over the years, but he doesn’t frequently get the pleasure of following up with them to hear how their journeys in cessation are going. One friend that stands out, however, is community volunteer and CAO client Stephanie Wright.


Wright quit smoking nearly 15 years ago and says she is so grateful that she was able to accomplish the feat.  She said the biggest reason behind her decision to give up smoking came from the financial burdens of the habit.


“Between the years 2000 and 2010, I was waiting for my disability,” Wright recalled. “Therefore, I had no income and switched from my regular cigarettes, Virginia Slim's long menthol, to tobacco and rolling papers.”


Wright said that, despite these changes, the habit was still expensive.


“I had to borrow money from my family, so this was the cheapest until April of 2009,” Wright said. “Tobacco had risen exorbitantly, so, I quit.”


Wright explained that she had a history of smoking going back 37 years, which included several quit attempts. Her habit was one that slowly progressed into something she never expected it to.


“I started out smoking just a few cigarettes a day,” Wright said. “By the time I quit, I was smoking two packs a day.”


Wright said the hardest part in her journey was having others around her who still smoked, but her faith and willpower persevered.


“I had prayed for God to take this habit from me one night,” Wright said. “When I woke up, cigarette smoke made me nauseous. I look back and I feel healthier. I no longer use a nebulizer and I use my inhaler less. My lungs have repaired to the point that they are working like normal.”


CAO congratulates Wright on her ability to kick the habit and keep with it for so long and offers support to anyone else willing to attempt a quit.


CAO and the Scioto County Tobacco Cessation Coalition encourages anyone willing to consider cessation to reach out to the Quit Line by calling 1.800.QUIT.NOW. or by finding them online and registering. Additionally, those wanting to quit should call Pratt at 740.464.4501, who can help you register for the QUIT LINE, may be able to connect users to local resources, and can refer expectant mothers to additional cessation services.


Community Action Organization of Scioto County is a 501©3 non-profit serving southern Ohio, primarily Scioto County, in a wide capacity. Through dozens of programs across five major departments, Workforce Solutions and Community Development, Early Childhood, Social Services, Energy Solutions, and WIC, the agency assists community members in nearly every need someone may have. If there isn’t an in-house program to support a need, then they have a partner they can refer. The agency is “helping people, changing lives” at 433 Third Street, Portsmouth. To learn more, call 740.354.7541. or visit


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