Using a carbon monoxide monitor to motivate clients to tackle tobacco
By Cancer Council NSW
About the community service organisation
Billabong Clubhouse is a non-clinical space that supports adults with lived experience of mental illness. Their members come from all walks of life and the challenges they face are varied. Billabong Clubhouse’s main goal for their Tackling Tobacco program was to assist their members to either quit or “cut-down-to-quit” their tobacco use to better their physical and mental health.
The Tackling Tobacco champions who led the project at Billabong Clubhouse found that their members were losing motivation to address their tobacco use. They wanted something that could provide a visual and tangible reward of growth and associated health benefits of quitting for their members. Billabong Clubhouse decided to purchase a carbon monoxide monitor (Smokerlyzer) to give their members every opportunity of success in their journey to quit smoking.
What is a carbon monoxide monitor, and how can it help people to quit smoking?
A carbon monoxide monitor is a motivational tool that can be used as part of a smoking cessation intervention. It can provide an estimate of the level of dependency and the degree of harm from smoking.
One champion said, “the Smokerlyzer itself was very easy to use as it provided instructions on the screen as you completed the reading”. The Smokerlyzer requires the person to hold their breath for 15 seconds and blow into a small disposable cylinder on the machine and measures the amount of carbon monoxide in the breath.
It also gives an indirect and non-invasive measure of carbon monoxide in the blood stream. The higher the Smokerlyzer reading, the more carbon monoxide is present, which prevents oxygen from circulating through the body and reaching important organs.
How Billabong Clubhouse incorporated the Smokerlyzer in everyday practice
Billabong Clubhouse aimed to do the Smokerlyzer readings weekly, however not all their members came in each week. Instead, they developed a system where all staff would prompt for the readings to be completed each visit for the clients who attended less regularly.
Billabong Clubhouse recorded the Smokerlyzer readings in an Excel spreadsheet saved on an internal network. This allowed the staff to provide verbal feedback on members’ scores and reinforce their hard work and achievements. Billabong Clubhouse staff noticed that members were coming to them and requesting to use the Smokerlyzer, and a few of them had a healthy competition on who had the lowest score!
The impact of the smokerlyzer for members’ quit journey
Some members were shocked at their readings along the scale, not recognising the effects cigarettes had on their body. Some realised it was a challenge to hold their breath for 15 seconds, and that alone was an eye opener on their physical health. This prompted members to be more engaged in other program activities such as gym groups and sport programs, in addition to Tackling Tobacco.
Members who didn’t smoke but socialised in the designated smoking area also used the smokerlyzer. They were surprised that their readings were not optimal and didn’t realise the effects of second-hand smoke exposure on their health.
Members have been more open about their tobacco use and were asking for more Nicotine Replacement Therapy as well as tips on quitting. One of the champions said the most prominent change she saw was members’ readings improving over time, which encouraged them to stay quit.
This resulted in more open and frequent dialogue between Billabong Clubhouse staff and members, in particular, initiated from the members themselves. This allowed for greater understanding of their unique barriers to quitting and ultimately more personalised quit support.
The carbon monoxide monitor is easy to use, useful to all members who want to address their tobacco use and reinforces the health benefits, which can help increase and maintain motivation to really follow through with their quitting journey. If your service is starting to tackle tobacco use, make sure you have a carbon monoxide monitor to give every opportunity for success.
Chloe Goodwin, Tackling Tobacco Champion at Billabong Clubhouse
For more information about carbon monoxide monitors and how to incorporate them into your everyday practice, contact the Tackling Tobacco team.