RUMFORD – A program aimed at helping women quit smoking begins next week.

This one, sponsored by the River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition, is different from others offered recently under programs funded by the Partnership for a Tobacco Free Maine.

“People don’t smoke just to smoke, but for many reasons,” said Stephanie Thompson, smoking cessation facilitator.

Because of that, the six-week program will focus on different concerns, then provide a way to change behavior. Participants will also discuss why they smoke, what the triggers are, and choose a quit date and method.

During week one, Log Cabin Craftworks’ owner Norine Clarke will teach a class on cross-stitching. Other activities during subsequent weeks include: yoga and relaxation techniques with Louisa Abarno; easy exercises sponsored by Generations gym; making healthy snacks with Kathy DiCocco, owner of Cafe’ DiCocco in Bethel; self-soothing exercise by Dr. Angella Roberts, a Rumford chiropractor; and the power of positive thinking and the positive effects of laughter with Carol Emery; and facials by Joy Peters.

Although all women are invited to participate, the primary focus is on women who are thinking of becoming pregnant, those who are pregnant, or those who are post-partum.

Thompson said a study has shown that between 75 and 90 percent of women who give birth at Rumford Hospital are smokers.

The program aims to make it as easy as possible for women to attend the weekly meetings by providing child care and transportation to and from the library if needed.

“We’re trying to address all the reasons for smoking,” said Thompson. “People can do many very easy things at home.”

Carol Emery, Healthy Maine Partnership director for Northern Oxford Wellness, said some past smoking cessation programs have not met the needs of everyone, so a more wholistic approach was adopted.

“We want to help prevent relapse, too,” she said.

The program may become a pilot for other healthy communities coalitions across the state, said Emery and Thompson.

For further information, or to register for the free program, contact Thompson at 364-7408 or at [email protected]