Against a backdrop of disproportionately high levels of smoking in the lesbian and bisexual community, the Lesbian Community Cancer Project has announced it will offer free smoking cessation workshops for women.
Three eight-week sessions are planned in locations on the West, North and South sides of Chicago. Registration is ongoing and sessions will be scheduled on demand. Participants will meet once a week in a supportive, women-centered environment where "culturally competent facilitators will guide them through the arduous, but infinitely rewarding process of smoking cessation."
Funding for the project comes from Big Tobacco settlement money, provided to LCCP through a grant from the Office of Gay and Lesbian Health of the Chicago Department of Public Health.
"Unfortunately, a mistaken attitude of nonchalance toward smoking and its associated risks permeates the community," observes Donna Rose Weems, LCCP's coordinator of education and training. "Smoking has definite health risks for women generally and lesbians specifically, as the medical community has a traditionally bungled bedside manner in issues of sexual orientation. That cultural incompetence makes lesbians and bisexuals reluctant to stem health problems with regular checkups."
LCCP, on the other hand, considers cultural competence a hallmark of its endeavors. Although the smoking cessation program is designed for members of the lesbian and bisexual communities, LCCP welcomes any woman who seeks a "woman-centered" forum.
"The program recognizes just how difficult it is to quit," says Dawn Hancock, project coordinator. "That's how we came up with the program's web site domain name—BitchToQuit.com . We take an 'us against them' perspective: 'us,' the women who are unfortunately hooked on a chemical that is at least as addictive as heroin, and 'them,' the tobacco companies that would rather we stayed hooked even if it kills us."
"The program made a difference for me because it taught us alternative behaviors to smoking and how to recognize the social cues that lead us to light up," says Kayla McCormick, who successfully kicked the tobacco habit after attending a workshop this spring.
Call LCCP at ( 773 ) 561-4662 or visit www.BitchToQuit.com . Also see LCCP's website at www.lccp.org .