cigaretteMichael Sullivan, a senior administrative assistant for BWPO Billing Compliance, had been struggling to quit smoking for years. Throughout four decades of smoking, he had kicked the habit on a few different occasions, the longest of which lasted two years, but he always went back, he said.

Then, last February, he changed his outlook and has been smoke-free ever since.

“I realized I was getting older and wanted to start being healthier about my life and well-being,” said Sullivan, who has worked at BWH for two years. He visited his physician and was prescribed Wellbutrin, an antidepressant that is also prescribed to help people quit smoking. “Initially, the medication allowed me to cut down my smoking considerably—to seven cigarettes a day—so I thought it would be a great time to give up smoking completely while I could.”

Each year, in an effort to help Americans stop smoking, the American Cancer Society marks the third Thursday of November as the Great American Smokeout, a date for people to quit or make a plan to quit.

“I feel so much better,” Sullivan said. “My breathing and stamina are much better, and I can walk longer and farther and exercise harder. I also see a significant difference in my attitude and way of life.”

During the process of quitting, Sullivan has used Nicorette patches and lozenges to help keep cravings at bay. He also now exercises regularly, practices yoga and has changed his eating habits, improving his overall health.

Recently, Partners began offering a new health insurance benefit for smokers, providing coverage for medications to help them cut down on smoking or quit completely. Several options are available with no co-pay for Partners employees and their adult dependents. More information is included in employees’ Open Enrollment benefit materials.

In addition, BWH employees and their adult dependents will be invited to enroll in a research study designed to help smokers cut down and quit. The free Partners in Helping You Quit (PiHQ) study is testing which of two programs is the most effective in helping employees quit smoking. Smokers who join the study will be randomly assigned to one of two programs. Both provide a personal tobacco coach and offer help that is private, confidential and tailored to employees needs. The study will eventually be offered to all permanent employees at BWH and will roll out in three phases, the first of which will begin this month.

“As an academic medical center, it is part of our mission to innovate and find new ways to support wellness for our employees, and this study is one example of that,” said Julie Celano, vice president of Human Resources.

All employees will receive an email from their department vice president when their area is enrolling. If you are ready to quit now, call PiHQ study staff at 617-724-2205 or email