Searching for smoke-free champs

There are hundreds of reasons to quit smoking, what’s yours?

Greg Rollins

Greg Rollins

There are hundreds of reasons to quit smoking, what’s yours?

That’s this year’s theme for National Non-Smoking Week that wraps up Saturday, and also one of the questions asked when a smoker visits a respiratory professional in Trail.

“A lot of people feel that society regards them as bad people because they smoke,” explained Greg Rollins, professional practice leader for Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital’s respiratory services. “But in reality, they’re not bad people, they’re good people just like you and I but with an addiction.”

Rollins was recognized as a champion last year, with an Interior Health Smoke Free Champions for Change Award.

Nominations will soon open up for this year’s awards, which acknowledge people who have made a difference in the lives of others by promoting smoke-free spaces, helping people quit smoking and preventing people from starting to smoke.

“It’s an opportunity to recognize those individuals that are really trying to make a difference when it comes to tobacco,” said Rollins.

He started up a program primarily for high-risk people who suffer from asthma or other respiratory diseases and are trying to kick nicotine.

Leading five counsellors who specialize in tobacco dependency, Rollins also works with nurses at the Trail hospital to ensure they’re confident when dealing with smokers.

“When it comes to smoking, if you don’t know how to support someone then you might be reluctant to bring it up,” he said.

Through open-ended questions, counsellors address the importance of quitting, set up a quit date, help with coping strategies, medical options and follow up with additional support.

Quitters are given a two-week starter kit, which is covered by the Trail Hospital Auxiliary.

“Seventy-five per cent of people who smoke want to quit but not all are ready,” said Rollins. “We motivate them to be ready, to feel important, make change and feel confident.”

This support is crucial especially when dealing with minimum wage individuals, who often put cigarettes before food.

Rollins also promotes a program called Quit Now, which has also helped many individuals. For more information, call the help line at 1-877-455-2233 or visit

Nominations for this year’s Smoke Free Champions for Change Awards open up Monday with a closing date of April 30.

The awards are open to both Interior Health staff and community members and will be given to six champs, who will each receive a $50 gift certificate on World No Tobacco day, May 31.

Nomination forms are available at starting Monday, and can be submitted online, faxed to 505-7211 or mailed to Smoke Free Champions for Change, Nelson Health Unit 2nd Floor, 333 Victoria St., Nelson, V1L 4K3.