Smoking Cessation: How to Quit Smoking

Smoking Cessation: How to Quit Smoking

What are some of the health risks caused by smoking?

Smoking is the leading cause of cancer and death from cancer. It causes cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia. Smoking also increases the risk of other health problems, such as chronic lung disease and heart disease. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, cigarette smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke cause more than 440,000 premature deaths each year in the United States.

What are the risks of tobacco smoke to nonsmokers?

Secondhand smoke causes disease and premature death in nonsmoking adults and children. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that exposure to secondhand smoke causes about 3,000 lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers and is responsible for lower respiratory tract infections in an estimated 300,000 children each year. Exposure to secondhand smoke is also thought to cause about 46,000 deaths from heart disease each year in the U.S.

What are the benefits of smoking cessation?

The health benefits of smoking cessation (quitting) are immediate and substantial. An individual’s heart rate and blood pressure, which are abnormally high while smoking, begin to return to normal. Almost immediately the level of carbon monoxide in the blood begins to decline. Within several months of quitting, there will be substantial improvements in lung function. Studies have shown that after 10 to 15 years, a previous tobacco user’s risk of premature death approaches that of a person who has never smoked. About 10 years after quitting, an ex-smoker’s risk of dying from lung cancer is 30 to 50 percent less than the risk for those who continue to smoke. Quitting also reduces the risk of other smoking-related diseases, including heart disease and chronic lung disease.

What is nicotine replacement therapy?

Nicotine is the drug in cigarettes and other forms of tobacco that causes addiction. Nicotine replacement products deliver small, steady doses of nicotine into the body, which helps to relieve the withdrawal symptoms often felt by people trying to quit smoking. These products are available in patches, gum, nasal spray, and inhalers and can be very effective. We recommend discussing nicotine replacement therapy with your doctor, dentist, pharmacist, or other health provider.

How can I help someone I know quit smoking?

It’s understandable to be concerned about someone you know who currently smokes. Most smokers say they want to quit. If they don’t want to quit, try to find out why. Acknowledge that the smoker may enjoy smoking and probably finds it very difficult to quit. Be encouraging and express your confidence that the smoker can quit for good. Suggest a specific action such as a smoking cessation program or a visit to their medical provider. It’s important to ask the smoker for ways in which you can provide support.

Where can I turn in the North Country for more information about smoking cessation?

Weeks offers a regular six-week tobacco cessation program called FreshStart. Smokers will learn to become tobacco free in a professionally managed and supportive group environment. Some of the topics covered include:

  • Understanding why you smoke
  • Effects of smoking on you and those around you
  • Nicotine replacement products
  • Stress management and weight control techniques
  • Staying smoke free

For more information about the program, you can call 603-788-5221.

by Margo Cliche

Margo Cliche is a certified tobacco prevention counselor. She is also manager of volunteer services and a family support team coordinator at Weeks Medical Center.  For more information or for an appointment, please call 603-788-5095.