Cigarette smoke is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States.
Emerging research is now studying something called third-hand smoke, the particles that fall on surfaces or clothes. Nicotine is present in these particles, which can also react with other chemicals to produce carcinogens.
This is a new area of research, but already investigators are finding that third-hand smoke can be dangerous.
While people may not know about third-hand smoke, they do tend to be aware of the dangers of smoking and of second-hand smoke. Regardless, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 45 million U.S. adults smoke cigarettes, and scolding, nagging and cajoling people about their smoking does not help them to quit, studies show.
Instead, smokers who want to kick the cigarette habit need encouragement and information about things such as free local support services, help lines where they can receive quick coaching, medications, and who to talk to about getting those medications. This kind of supportive and positive approach is shown to be more effective than confrontation.
This is the impetus behind Project Reach. The program, run by researcher and doctor in the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Myra Muramoto, works with individuals to teach them how to talk to their friends, loved ones and others about quitting smoking in a productive way.
"Quiting tobacco is a difficult thing," says Muramoto. "Cigarette addiction is very complicated, and people need help and encouragement."
Initially, Project Reach began by working with anyone in the community who wanted to learn how to help someone quit smoking. The outreach project was part of a research study to learn more about smoking cessation methods. Based on participant feedback, Project Reach next reached out to Complementary and Alternative Medicine Providers, particularly chiropractors, acupuncturists, and massage therapists.
Licensed massage therapist, Toni Elwell, is a recent graduate of Project Reach. Elwell says she has already made changes to her practice, such as adding a question on her intake form, asking new clients if they smoke. This gives her an opening to ask those people if they have ever tried to quit.
"And if they say yes, I can decide if I want to go forward with the conversation, if they are comfortable with it, and we can talk about how long they quit, what are maybe the reasons for quitting again, and now I have access to pamphlets on different topics about smoking cessation".
In general, Muramoto and Elwell both recommend that the best approach for helping someone to quit is to be supportive, rather than judgmental.