The American Cancer Society notes that about 40 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the world.
While cigarette smoking rates have dropped (from 42 percent in 1965 to a little less than 16 percent in 2015), rates for cigar, pipe and hookah use — other dangerous and addictive ways to smoke tobacco — are rising.
In recognition of the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout Day on Thursday, Lawrence Memorial Hospital will offer a free smoking cessation information workshop called “The Steps to Successfully Quitting Smoking.” The class will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and advance registration is required at www.lmh.org/events or by calling LMH Connect Care at (785) 505-5800.
For those unable to attend, the Kansas Tobacco Quitline provides free coaching to help smokers create an individualized plan to quit tobacco and fight cravings. Reach the Quitline at KSquit.org or 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
There are many benefits to quitting tobacco. According to the Centers for Disease Control (cdc.gov), quitters may:
• Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. One year after quitting smoking, the risk drops to half that of a smoker’s.
• Decrease the risk of lung cancer. Ten years after quitting, the death rate from lung cancer is half that of a smoker’s
• Reduce the risk of a stroke. Within 5 to 15 years of quitting, stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker’s.
• Save money. A pack a day smoker can save around $150 a month (almost $2,000 a year).
Mark Twain once said, “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know, because I’ve done it thousands of times.” Like Mark Twain, many people trying to quit using tobacco in any form may have multiple quit attempts before being permanently successful.
The important thing is to never give up trying. Be persistent, be patient and forgive yourself if you backslide. Each time you try to quit and are not successful, you will learn something that can be applied to your next quit attempt.
Just quitting cold turkey may not be the most effective way for most to remain tobacco free. Information and support are of prime importance for quitting success.
Take the time to put a quit plan in place and employ any and all assistance available. This may include counseling, on-going support, over-the-counter nicotine replacement products and even prescription medications.
Talk with your healthcare provider about whether you might be a candidate for medications to help you quit. Many medications take two to three weeks to work, so make an appointment well in advance of your proposed quit date.
Here are nine tips to get started:
- Think about your reasons for quitting and record them. Whenever a craving hits, focus on these reasons.
- Pick a quit day and stick to it. Avoid days that will potentially be high stress.
- Throw out all cigarettes, ashtrays, lighters and other smoking related items.
- Replace your toothbrush, wash your clothes and clean your car or house.
- When a craving hits, take deep breaths, distract yourself and drink water.
- Exercise! Not only can this help control cravings, but also help to fight any weight gain.
- Avoid situations where you are tempted to smoke – bars, parties or a workplace smoking area.
- Frequently rehearse in your mind what you will do if tempted to smoke again.
- Repeat frequently: “I will never take another puff from a cigarette ever again.”
For more information and online tools to help quit tobacco use, visit:
• Lawrence Memorial Hospital (www.lmh.org/library; use the interactive tool in the Quitting Smoking link)
• U.S. Government (smokefree.gov)
• American Cancer Society (cancer.org)
• American Heart Association (heart.org)
• American Lung Association (lung.org)
— Aynsley Anderson Sosinski, MA, RN, is Community Education Coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which is a major sponsor of WellCommons. She is a Mayo Clinic Certified Wellness Coach. She can be reached at email@example.com.