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Waynesboro group a pack of quitters

February 02, 1999

Quit smokingBy RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Willa Mayhugh isn't about to give up smoking without a fight.

The 67-year-old Waynesboro grandmother wanted so much to smoke while a cancer patient that she would walk out of the hospital toting her mobile IV unit to the bus stop across the street to have a cigarette.

"There I was with my IV pole, a chemotherapy bag on my stomach and a catheter in my heart, standing on the street smoking," she said. "I'd like to quit, but smoking is the only thing I have left that I enjoy."

Mayhugh, who said she's been smoking for more than 40 years, was one of 10 area residents who came to the first meeting of a smokers' support group Tuesday night at the Waynesboro Hospital conference room. The group, for people who want to quit, meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.

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It was started by Philip Stapleton, 80, of Quincy, Pa., a retired engineer and nonsmoker who said he wanted to do something to help other people. He takes his work so seriously that he stops smokers wherever he sees them and encourages them to quit.

"I walk up to them and smile," he said. "I'm nice about it and nobody has ever given me a hard time."

Stapleton said he's going to start approaching teenagers on the street after school and talk to them about their habit. "I'll probably have to wear a hard hat, but I want to start this before school gets out this year."

The guest speaker Tuesday was Sarabeth Johnson, who teaches classes in smoking cessation, stress management and other preventive health measures at hospitals in Waynesboro and Chambersburg, Pa.

She said there support group is needed. The quit-smoking class she teaches, while very intense, only goes through six sessions. The support group meets monthly so people who want to quit can come together and talk about their problem, she said.

Studies show that quitting cold turkey is the least successful method to break the habit, Johnson said. Prescription drugs like Zyban, an anti-depressant that curbs the craving and levels out the mood swings that come with withdrawal, work on the physical side of smoking. Real success requires a psychological decision.

She said it's harder for some people to quit than others and men often have an easier time of it than women.

Anyone wanting information on the support group can call Stapleton at 717-762-8445.

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