November 15, 2018 is the Great American Smokeout! The American Cancer Society marks this day annually to encourage smokers to make a plan to quit, or if a plan is in place, to actually stop smoking that day.
Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of cancers of the mouth and throat, lung, esophagus, pancreas, cervix, kidney, bladder, stomach, colon, rectum, and liver, as well as acute myeloid leukemia. Some studies also link smoking to breast cancer and advanced-stage prostate cancer. Smoking also greatly increases the risk of debilitating, long-term lung diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It raises the risk for heart attack, stroke, blood vessel diseases, and eye diseases. Half of all smokers who keep smoking will eventually die from a smoking-related illness.
Kick Your Smoking Habit
No matter how old you are or how long you’ve smoked, quitting can help you live a longer and healthier lifestyle. According to the American Cancer Society, compared to smokers, people who stop smoking before age 50 cut in half their risk of dying in the next 15 years. Former smokers enjoy a higher quality of life with fewer illnesses from cold and flu viruses, reduced rates of bronchitis and pneumonia and better overall health.
With all the benefits of quitting smoking in mind, overcoming the obstacle of addiction is not easy to do. The most important first step is to make a commitment to end your smoking habit. The next step involves getting the support and resources you need to be successful.
Some keys to succeeding at quitting the smoking habit are:
- Quitting alone is hard to do. Joining a smoking cessation program or support group is beneficial and necessary for many people. Family and friends can also help you stay on the right path.
- Support: ask your doctor about methods that can help you quit such as classes, medication or counseling.
- Call for help: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a free Quit Now hotline. 1-800-QUIT-NOW
- Nicotine-replacement therapy: gums, lozenges or patches are beneficial for many people.
- De-stress: Find new ways to let out stress and relax, such as exercise or listening to music. Exercise can also help curve nicotine cravings.
- Avoid triggers such as alcohol or coffee.
- Financial benefits: keep in mind the other enjoyable things you could be doing with money saved.
- If you fail, try again!
Click here to access Touro’s online smoking cessation health library for more tools and resources to help you quit.
If you kick your smoking habit now, you’ll enjoy a better quality of life and more years to live it. Stick with it, make that commitment and seek the support you need to be successful.
Neil Ninan, MD specializes in Pulmonary Disease and Interventional Pulmonology. Interventional pulmonology is a relatively new specialty in pulmonary medicine. Interventional pulmonology uses endoscopy and other tools to diagnose and treat conditions in the lungs and chest.