DENVER (CBS4) – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking is more common among American Indians than any other racial and ethnic group in the U.S. And research indicates American Indians have a tougher time quitting than other smokers.
There’s now new way to help — it’s a new Colorado QuitLine. It started Aug. 1 and is the first of its kind. It’s customized coaching for an underserved population of smokers.READ MORE: 'Girls Can Do Anything': Colorado Girls Introduced To Possibilities Of Careers In Construction
Azalea Kaasa, a part-Native American, told CBS4 she exercises at the urging of staff at the Denver Indian Health Clinic in Denver. It’s an effort to prevent diabetes in the 23-year-old who has been smoking since she was 18.
Kaasa has attempted to quit but hasn’t been able to.
“A couple times successfully for a few months here or there but there would always be a trigger and I wanted to smoke again,” she said.
“It’s part of the (American Indian) environment, it’s part of the culture to see people using tobacco,” said Amy Lukowski, Clinical Director of the Colorado QuitLine, which is operated by National Jewish Health.
According to the CDC, in 2014 more than 26 percent of American Indian adults were cigarette smokers.
“We have an effective intervention,” Lukowski said.READ MORE: Ptarmigan Fire: Hundreds Remain Evacuated, New Evacuations Ordered After Wildfire Started Near Homes In Summit County
The Colorado QuitLine is now pairing American Indian callers with American Indian coaches.
Sereina House, a Ute Indian, builds a rapport with her callers.
“There was a time tobacco was used by our ancestors and was respected. Now that tobacco use got off track and now starts to harm our children, our families and our communities,” House said.
House believes her background is comforting to her American Indian callers.
“Like my last call, that’s something that she did mention, she felt like I could understand her on that level because I was Native American,” House said.
American Indians will also be offered 10 coaching calls, not just five, and eight weeks of nicotine replacement therapy.MORE NEWS: Former Idaho Springs Police Officer, Nicholas Hanning, Faces Civil Lawsuit For Separate Controversial Arrest
LINK: Colorado QuitLine