New Years Resolutions - Quit Smoking - Preserve Your Health
Last Modified: 04.04.13
Once again, it is the beginning of another new year. At the start of each year, we are constantly reminded to make resolutions for the coming year. In 2013, why not make a resolution to reduce your long-term risk of illness that is brought on by smoking.
Not all resolutions begin on January 1, but all resolutions can begin to take shape on January first. Smoking cessation is one of those challenges that require diligence and conviction and planning. Saying one will quit without setting a specific stop date or having a support group in place for encouragement, can be fraught with frustration. However, the absence of such a support system does not make it impossible to quit, just not as easy. There are several community resources available to those interested in quitting as well.
When discussing the cost of healthcare, it is clear that disease prevention can have a substantial impact on healthcare costs, as no other factor would reduce healthcare expenditures more than smoking cessation. Cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States with over 400,000 deaths per year. Smokers, who are able to stop, reduce their risks of tobacco related disease such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and emphysema.
Currently, 20% of adults smoke in the United States and while most want to quit, only 5-7% who quit remain smoke free one year later. With ideal treatment, smokers can achieve a 30% one-year abstinence rate, but unfortunately, many smokers never seek help in quitting.
Cigarettes are addictive both from a psychological aspect and from the physical dependency of nicotine. Treatments that address both of these have the highest success rates. However, there are several barriers to quitting successfully. Nicotine withdrawal is the main barrier, but others include anxiety, fear of weight gain, pleasure experienced from smoking, and insomnia.
Counseling is a beneficial aid to smoking cessation and group counseling programs are available at not cost. In addition, computer based programs are under development that can assist with smoking cessation.
Pharmacotherapy is aimed at preventing or relieving the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal as well as reducing the rewarding aspects of smoking. There are several types of pharmacotherapy currently in use and they maybe used individually or in combination.
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is aimed at preventing withdrawal symptoms. There are multiple forms of NRT, including patches, gum, lozenges and inhalers. The first three are available without a prescription and are equally beneficial in preventing withdrawal symptoms.
Several medications, available by prescription only, are available to help with smoking cessation. Each has its advantages and works mainly by reducing the rewards perceived by the individual smoking. These medications maybe combined with nicotine replacement therapy.
Quitting smoking has substantial health benefits. The earlier one quits the greater the benefit, but quitting at any age helps. Within one year of quitting, lung function improves and cardiovascular risk declines. Quitting also reduces the risk of developing cancer of the lungs, stomach, kidney, bladder, mouth and esophagus. Quitting also lowers the chance of developing stomach ulcers, diabetes, strokes and osteoporosis. A reduction in all-cause mortality (risk of dying) occurs when smoking is stopped.
Help is available for quitting and the benefits are substantial. Schedule an appointment with one of our pulmonologists today to discuss how you can best start the New Year right---Smoke Free!