This Thursday, Nov. 16, is the Great American Smokeout, the day each year when smokers are encouraged to make a plan to quit. Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States, but about 40 million Americans still smoke cigarettes.
How many Idahoans smoke or use tobacco products?
About 14.5 percent of adult Idahoans smoke. And just over 9 percent of high school students between 9th and 12th grades smoke, with many beginning to use cigarettes as early as age 13. Nicotine in tobacco is so addictive, it’s difficult to stop once you start, and when you start at such an early age, the health problems get worse.
Why is it important to quit smoking sooner rather than later?
The benefits of quitting start immediately. After 20 minutes of not smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. 12 hours after quitting, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. A year after quitting, your extra risk of a heart attack related to smoking drops by half. And after 10-15 years being cigarette-free, there is a substantial reduction in your risk for cancer or heart disease from smoking.
Are electronic cigarettes a good option to help a person quit?
E-cigarettes are not made with that goal in mind. They have no medically endorsed program to use them with. Traditional nicotine replacement therapy is a much better choice because it helps a person kick the habit in a gradual, controlled way. Plus, it has been scientifically proven to be an effective intervention.
Are there benefits to a smoker’s family and friends when they quit?
Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemical compounds, including 50 known cancer-causing chemicals. Infants and children of parents who smoke are more likely to have ear infections and asthma as well as more frequent lower respiratory problems such as coughs, pneumonia, bronchitis, and croup. Secondhand smoke also increases an infant’s risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. And everyone who lives with a smoker has a 20-percent greater risk of developing lung cancer than people who don’t live with a smoker.
Where can a person go to get help?
Idahoans who want to quit can call 1-800-QuitNow to talk to a professional cessation counselor or sign up online at ProjectFilter.org. When you sign up or call, a quit coach will help you decide which nicotine substitute or other medication is best for you. You can receive eight weeks of free nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, or another FDA-approved cessation medication if that is part of your personalized quitting plan. You’ll also find lots of resources at that website, including chat rooms, expert advice and information about local programs that will help you quit. The Idaho Careline, which you can reach by calling 2-1-1 anywhere in the state of Idaho, also has resources to help you quit.
A Closer Look at Your Health airs weekly on KBOI NewsRadio 670 on Tuesday mornings at 6:50 a.m. in Boise; this is a transcript of the Nov. 13, 2017 program.
- DHW’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program: http://www.healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Health/TobaccoPreventionandControl/tabid/324/Default.aspx
- Project Filter: http://projectfilter.org/ or 1-800-QuitNow
- Idaho Careline: 211.idaho.gov