Curbing the Habit: Quitting Smoking in Missoula

The struggle to quit smoking is an ongoing battle that’s faced by many people in Missoula, as well as across the nation. Much of this battle is fought on the policy front. In February 2023, health advocates revisited the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act after attempts to curtail Montana’s prohibitions on indoor smoking. In response to concerns that the bill was restricting individual freedoms and damaging businesses, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services noted that only two businesses have received related citations in the previous five years. Most received education or warning letters instead.

All stakeholders of Missoula must stay consistent in addressing smoking and vaping concerns if we are to promote healthier lifestyles. This article explores local efforts to combat tobacco addiction and recommends effective smoking cessation strategies to encourage individuals toward a smoke-free life.

Local efforts and legislative measures

Like many other communities, Missoula has been taking steps to address the challenges posed by smoking and vaping. Missoula’s regulations regarding vaping include restrictions on outdoor vaping in public places, giving non-vapers a smoke-free environment to enjoy. Additionally, businesses in Missoula have the autonomy to decide whether to allow vaping on their premises, provided they communicate their policies to visitors within a 25-foot radius of their property. These measures aimed to protect non-vapers from secondhand exposure and encourage a healthier environment for all.

However, legislative efforts have been subject to controversy. As reported by KPAX in January 2021, a flavored vaping ban in Missoula faced the threat of a lawsuit filed by a coalition of vaping businesses and a trade organization. The city chose to delay the ban’s implementation, which allowed the Montana Legislature to consider HB137, a measure that would impact the effectiveness of Missoula’s ban. The decision was made following discussions between the late Mayor John Engen, the now-retired City Attorney Jim Nugent, Chief Administrative Officer Dale Bickell, and City Council members.

Recommended smoking cessation strategies

In the face of these challenges, Missoula has not neglected the well-being of its residents struggling to quit smoking. The city and surrounding areas offer resources and support for those looking to kick the habit — from the Missoula Tobacco Use Prevention Program to the Montana Tobacco Quit Line.

The latter provides free, confidential coaching and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to help individuals quit smoking or vaping. Outside of these programs, most NRT and popular forms of modern oral products are available in major convenience stores and gasoline stations. Through online selling platforms, nicotine pouches in various flavors can be delivered to the doorsteps of Montana residents. For instance, the nicotine pouch brand VELO has many flavors listed on Prilla, and has become renowned for its mint, coffee, and more exotic flavors such as dragon fruit that allows the brand to cater to a wide audience. These products are safe for usage and serve as an alternative to more harmful options like e-cigarette manufacturer Juul, which paid $6.1 million to Montana due to the company’s irresponsible marketing campaigns. As a smoke-free and tobacco-free alternative, nicotine pouches and other modern oral products, such as gum or lozenges, are also likely to be safe from any potential ban on flavored tobacco products.

NRT products can be used in tandem with therapy and counseling for faster results. Major healthcare providers in the region, such as the Providence St. Patrick Hospital, offer smoking cessation programs and resources. These programs often include counseling, support groups, and guidance on using NRTs. In some cases, healthcare providers can also prescribe medications like Chantix or Zyban to assist with smoking cessation. These medications work on the brain’s nicotine receptors, reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Missoula recognizes the challenges of quitting tobacco, and the city has implemented local measures in support. Additional smoking cessation strategies such as NRTs, therapy, support groups, and lifestyle changes can assist individuals looking to break free from tobacco addiction. With community support and self-determination, you can curb the habit of smoking and contribute to Missoula’s transformation into a smoke-free city.