Health Matters: Resources to quit smoking
By Pamela Glover
Special to The Herald
Nov. 11, 2008
The Great American Smokeout, the annual event to encourage smoking cessation begun by the American Cancer Society (ACS) 36 years ago, is scheduled for Nov. 20. According to the ACS, tobacco use accounts for at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths and 87 percent of lung cancer deaths. (Source: Cancer Facts and Figures 2008).
One of the first steps to quit smoking is to pick a date. Smokers, please pick November 20th as your date. There is still plenty of time to contact your doctor and discuss the method that you think will be best. There are numerous methods to assist in smoking cessation. There are over-the-counter products such as patches and lozenges as well. There are free support groups and toll free phone numbers to call and speak with someone who is trained to help people quit smoking and remain smoke-free. Some of these resources are listed at the end of this article.
It is a well known knowledge that smoking increases the risk for developing serious illnesses and cause birth defects. These warnings are printed on the side of every pack of cigarettes. Tobacco use is noted to be the number one cause of preventable deaths in America. Tobacco use kills more than 400,000 Americans and cost the nation nearly $100 billion in healthcare bills each year. Everyday, 1,200 lives are lost and more than 1,000 children become new smokers. Despite being the deadliest product sold in America, tobacco products are among the least regulated product today.
But, there is great news! On July 30, the U.S. House of Representative cast a historic vote to protect children from tobacco addiction by approving legislation granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco products. This is the first time the House has ever approved such legislation. Many people are not aware of the immediate and long term benefits of quitting smoking which include:
- Within 20 minutes of quitting, the heart rate drops.
- Twelve hours after quitting the amount of carbon monoxide in the blood drops to normal.
- Two weeks to three months after quitting the risk for heart attack begins to drop and the lungs begin to function better.
- One to nine months after quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decreases.
- One year after quitting, the risk of heart disease is half that of a current smoker's.
- Ten years after quitting the lung cancer death rate is half that of a smoker's.
- Fifteen years after quitting, the risk of heart disease is that of someone who has never smoked. In other words, it takes 15 years to undo the damage smoking causes.
With many people looking for ways to adjust their budgets to cover the rising cost of living, a person who smokes one pack a day could save $1,460 in a year if they quit smoking. The average cost for a pack of cigarettes is $4. If a person smokes two packs per day for 40 years, they will spend $116,800. This is more than what a lot of people will accumulate for retirement (averages and cost is according to Freedom Stop Smoking Center 2008.)
The ACS recommends five keys for quitting:
- Get ready
- Get support and encouragement
- Learn new skills and behaviors
- Get medication and use it correctly
- Be prepared for relapse or difficult situations
Smokers and friends/family of smokers, please reconsider your habit. Smoking affects everyone, from the negative health affects of second hand smoke, to the rising cost of insurance to heart and lung disease in smokers. The following are resources available to assist smokers in kicking the habit, for good.
- American Cancer Society-advice on quitting, resources, and information about smoking http://www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco
- Quit Now! NC-offers more information on resources available in NC to stop smoking: http://www.quitnownc.org/quitnow.asp
- Freedom Stop Smoking Centers: http://www.freedomstopsmokingcenters.com
- National Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids: http://www.tobaccofreekids.org
- 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-6689) offers support councilors in English and Spanish who will even call you to check on your progress, all for free
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