Quit smoking for better health
Why should cigarette smokers thing about quitting?
One in three smokers dies early because of his or her smoking they die of heart disease, stroke, cancer and emphysema. At one time, smoking seemed “cool,” but I has become less and less desirable.
What’s more, research shows that second-hand smoke, or the smoke from other people’s cigarettes, can harm the health of nonsmokers. Breathing in another person’s smoke can cause many breathing problems in children and cancer and heart disease in adults.
The trend now is for public places and work places to be smoke-free. In fact, St. Mark’s Hospital is a smoke free campus to protect the air for our patients and their families. This should help smokers make the move to quit and keep everyone’s lungs healthier.
Cigarettes are so much a part of the American scene that many people think of them as “normal.” They are easy to buy and inexpensive compared to other drugs. But, cigarettes aren’t normal. They are very addictive and cause sickness and death. They are illegal to use in many places and it is illegal for minors to buy them in most parts of the U.S.
What about smokers who quit time and time again?
Most smokers need to “practice” quitting several times before they make if for good. The best advice is to keep trying! Practice helps smokers plan what to do the next time they get an urge to smoke.
Quitting smoking may seem almost impossible, but it can be done. Don’t give up! More than 45.7 million Americans have quit. Many of them tried several times before they were able to quit. They made it and quit for good. Other smokers can, too.
What about nicotine replacement therapy? Does it help?
Quitting smoking is a two-step process that includes:
- Overcoming the physical addition to nicotine, and
- Breaking the smoking habit.
Nicotine replacement therapy helps take care of the nicotine addiction so that the smoker can work on breaking the habit. Research has shown that smokers who use some form of nicotine replacement therapy and participate in a behavior change program like Utah Quit Line (1.800.QUIT.NOW) can double their chances of quitting for good.
These products work best for people who are addicted to nicotine and are really trying to quit. Smokers can now obtain these nicotine replacement products both with a doctor’s prescription and over-the-counter. These products are designed to reduce cravings for cigarettes and relieve with withdrawal symptoms people experience while trying to quit smoking. Below, several options are described for nicotine replacement therapy:
- Nicotine chewing gum
Nicotine chewing gum releases small amounts of nicotine into the body. This cuts down on withdrawal symptoms and makes it easier to break the smoking addiction. Nicotine gum is available over the counter and the recommended treatment period is 12 weeks. Quitters usually chew 10 to 15 pieces of gum a day. Package instructions explain how the gum is to be chewed. Drinks, such as coffee or soda, should be avoided before, during, and after use of the gum.
- Nicotine patch
The nicotine patch helps relieve nicotine withdrawal symptoms by providing a steady dosage of nicotine throughout the day. It reduces the craving or urge to smoke because it replaces the nicotine the smoker was used to getting from cigarettes. Each day, a new patch is applied to the upper body. One brand of patch is removed at night, lowering the level of nicotine in the bloodstream to give the body a rest; other brands are worn both day and night. Nicotine patches are now available over-the-counter and work best when used along with a behavioral change program like Utah Quit Line (1.800.QUIT.NOW). Patches are available in either six-week or ten-week treatment periods.
- Other nicotine replacement products
A nicotine replacement inhaler and a nasal spray are available by prescription. A doctor should be contacted to discuss the use of these products and whether they are right for you. There are also certain medications available that can help smokers quit. These medications are only available with a prescription, so ask your doctor if one of these medications is right for you.
Are nicotine replacement products just as bad as smoking cigarettes?
No, they do not have all the tars and poisonous gases that are found in cigarettes. Furthermore, they provide less nicotine than a smoker gets from cigarettes. These products should not be used by pregnant or nursing women. People who have other medical conditions should check with their doctor before using any nicotine replacement product.
It is important that you quit smoking completely before using any nicotine replacement products. You should not smoke any cigarettes while using the patch.
What are some tips for smokers who decide to quit?
Join a stop-smoking program such as Utah Tobacco Quit Line (1.800.QUIT.NOW or www.tobaccofreeutah.org). This program gives lots of ideas on how to quit and stay smoke free. Groups are also a way to meet other people who want to stop smoking.
Look into the different kinds of self-help options available to smokers. These include Freedom from Smoking® which is available as a group clinic, an online program and a self-help book. All of these materials are available from the American Lung Association.
Pick a good time to quit. Don’t try to quit when you’re under a lot of stress or around a holiday.
Be aware that smokers have different experiences whey they quit. They may feel sleepy or very excited, lightheaded, nervous or irritable. Or they might crave tobacco or sweets, or have headaches. Be sure to get some exercise every day. For example, waling is a great way to reduce the stress of quitting. Exercise is a big boost toward feeling better, improving spirits, and keeping trim. Get plenty of sleep, eat a balanced diet and drink lots of water.
Ask family, friends and co-workers to help. Having someone to take a walk with or who will listen can give you a needed boost.
Resources to help you quit
Freedom from Smoking®, American Lung Association (www.lung.org) or call 1-800-LUNGUSA
Utah Tobacco Quit Line, (www.tobaccofreeutah.org) or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW
Guide to Quitting Smoking, available from The American Cancer Society online at www.cancer.org or call 1-800-227-2345 to order a free copy of the Guide to Quitting Smoking.
Smokefree.gov offers free counseling, tips, resources, and a quit plan.
Waytoquit.org also offers additional support and resources.
Talk to your doctor about your desire to quit smoking. Your physician can point in the direction of additional resources, such as nicotine replacement or medications that might assist you.
Remember, the key to stop smoking is to keep trying. You can do it!