The effects of smoking are well publicized, but one little known fact is that tobacco use can cause bones to lose calcium.
"Calcium is leeched from the bones with tobacco use, whether through smoking or chewing tobacco," said Terri Holloway, Kingman site coordinator for the Mohave County Tobacco Use Prevention Program.
Holloway, who coordinates the smoking cessation classes through the McTupp program, said an entire class session is set aside to talk about nutrition and its role in the smoking cessation program.
"Some people who are trying to quit are concerned about gaining weight.
We talk about the importance of a healthy diet," she said.
"We go through the food pyramid.
Most people don't eat enough fruits and vegetables."
An upcoming session will feature guest speaker Miriam Nichols, the "Bone Builders" instructional specialist at University of Arizona Cooperative Extension.
Nichols will talk about how to prevent osteoporosis, which is caused by lack of calcium, family history, inactivity, certain medications and lifestyle choices.
More than 500,000 people 50 years old and older in Arizona have osteoporosis, or are at risk, although most people aren't aware of the risks, Nichols said.
"Prevention can be simple: eat high calcium foods, do weight-bearing exercise, and lead a generally healthy lifestyle," she added.
Holloway said nutrition is just one of many subjects covered in the smoking and chewing cessation classes for youth and adults offered throughout the county.
"You get tips on how to handle cravings, deal with stress, avoid weight gain and prevent slips," she said.
Self-help materials, phone counseling, and information about second hand smoke are also available.
The classes are free and all participants are offered reduced cost nicotine patches.
The class meets for about an hour a week for six weeks.
Stop-smoking classes will be offered in Dolan Springs starting at 2 p.m.
September 23 at the Dolan Springs Library and will continue every Monday thereafter.
Call 767-4292 to sign up for classes.
In Kingman classes will be held in the Hualapai Conference Room of the Del E.
Webb Wellness Center starting at 7 p.m.
12 and continuing every Thursday.
Call 753-0794, extension 4217 to sign up.
McTupp uses cigarette tax money to help people stop smoking and teach kids to never start, Holloway said.