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Great American Smokeout

Stateman Journal Living Well - November 2015

Great American Smokeout

"Quit smoking" is at the top of many lists: doctor's prescriptions, how to prevent chronic disease, news headlines and New Year's resolutions.  It is on those lists because smoking tobacco is a top contributor to a host of health conditions, many of which can be prevented. 

As with anything in life that's really worth doing – ending your smoking habit can be challenging.  With a little help from your friends at Santiam Hospital, however, it is not impossible.

November 19th  is the Great American Smoke Out, an annual initiative by the American Cancer Society (ACS) to encourage people to snuff out their smoking habit – for good.  Santiam Hospital teams up every year with ACS to supply tools and support to people ready to quit.   Please Visit SantiamHospital.org and click on the Cardiopulmonary tab for their informative PDF, "Stop Smoking and Stay Healthy."

When a person stops smoking, the benefits are immediate.  In fact, the American Cancer Society states that your heart rate and blood pressure will drop to normal rates within 20 minutes. Twelve hours later, the carbon monoxide level in your blood will drop to normal.  A couple months later both your circulation and lung function will improve.  One year after quitting – you cut your risk of coronary heart disease in half.           

Assumingly every smoker knows they should quit, but the challenge of doing so seems daunting.  After all, smokers are addicted.

The addictive substance in cigarettes is called nicotine, a drug found naturally in tobacco.  Some smokers say it is as addictive as heroin or cocaine.  Smokers become both physically and emotionally addicted to nicotine.  Therefore, smokers feel good when they ingest nicotine and bad when they do not.  Withdrawals from nicotine can be unpleasant, however with managed medical assistance and techniques that address both the physical and emotional addiction can help.  Here are a few options:

  • Exercise
  • Rediscover your hobbies
  • Meditate or walk
  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Talk to a quitting coach or therapist
  • Relaxing self-care activities like massage and yoga
  • Find a smartphone app to help quit
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Nicotine replacement products or medication from your healthcare provider
  • Change habits that revolved around smoking (places you went for meals, where you took your work breaks, etc.)

It is important to manage the inevitable withdrawal symptoms, so you may have to try a few different techniques until you find the one(s) that are right for you.  The unpleasantness of withdrawal is the leading cause of relapse.

It is challenging for people to stop smoking because their bodies are addicted to a drug.  Difficulty is not due to low willpower. Santiam Hospital's Cardiopulmonary Team would like to remind you - it's a good idea to have a check-up during and after this process.  Certain medications may be influenced by smoking and the dosage may need to be adjusted after you stop smoking.  You can be sure your provider will be glad to hear the words, "I quit."