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According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of premature death. Use of tobacco increases the risk of cancers (lung, oral, esophageal, laryngeal), cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease, stroke), and chronic lower respiratory disease (emphysema, chronic bronchitis, chronic airway obstruction). Cigarette smoking causes an estimated 87% of all lung cancer deaths, 22% of all coronary heart disease deaths and 12% of all stroke deaths. In Florida in 2002, 18.9% of the deaths among those 35 and older were attributable to smoking. There are still many pregnant and new mothers that continue to smoke.
Nicotine: A Powerful Addiction
If you have tried to quit smoking, you know how hard it can be. It is hard because nicotine is a very addictive drug. For some people, it can be as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Quitting is hard. Usually people make many quit attempts before finally being able to quit for life. Each time you try to quit, you can learn about what helps and what hurts.
Good Reasons for Quitting
Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you will ever do.
You will live longer and live better.
Quitting will lower your chance of having a heart attack, stroke, or cancer.
If you are pregnant, quitting smoking will improve your chances of having a healthy baby.
The people you live with, especially your children, will be healthier.
You will have extra money to spend on things other than cigarettes.
Five Key Steps for Quitting
Studies have shown that these five steps will help you quit and quit for good. You have the best chances of quitting if you use them together.
1. Get ready–Set quit date!
2. Get support–Talk to family, friends, and your health care provider. Get individual, group, or telephone counseling. The Florida Quit-for-Life Line (1-877-822-6669) is only a toll-free phone call away! Or you can call your local health department for information about programs in your area.
3. Learn new skills and behaviors–Change your routine. Go for a walk. Drink lots of water. Plan something enjoyable to do every day.
4. Get medication and use it correctly–Medications can help you stop smoking and lessen the urge to smoke. Ask your health care provider for advice and carefully read the information on the package. If you are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant, nursing, under age 18, smoking fewer than 10 cigarettes per day, or have a medical condition, talk to your doctor or other helath care provider before taking medications.
5. Be prepared for relapse or difficult situations–Most relapses occur with the first 3 months after quitting. Don’t be discouraged if you start smoking again. Remember, most people try several times before they finally quit.
Here are some difficult situations to watch for.
Alcohol. Avoid drinking alcohol. Drinking lowers your chances of success.
Other Smokers. Being around smoking can make you want to smoke.
Weight Gain. Many smokers will gain weight when they quit, usually less than 10 pounds. Eat a healthy diet and stay active. Don’t let weight gain distract you from your main goal–quitting smoking. Some quit-smoking medications may help delay weight gain.
Bad Mood or Depression. There are a lot of ways to improve you mood other than smoking.
Quitting smoking is hard. Usually people make five to seven tries, before finally being able to quit. Studies show that people who try to quit on their own have a 3%-5% success rate where as people who use the Florida Quit-for-Life Line have a 20% success rate.
Tobacco users wishing to quit the addiction can get help by calling the Quitline toll-free at 877-U CAN NOW (1-877-822-6669). The quitline is available in all languages, and TDD for the hearing impaired, provides callers counseling services and other information to help them quit tobacco use.
Information for this article is made available courtesy of the Florida Department of Health Prevention Program.
Readers may send questions to our email address. This column is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional or medical advice.
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Last updated April 2009. Over 1,194,000 page views.
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