“I've smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for 40 years - what's the
use of quitting now?”
If you quit
smoking, you are likely to add years to your life, breathe more easily, and
have more energy. You will have extra money for spending or saving, and food
will taste better. When you quit smoking, you join over a million people who
break the habit each year. Whether you are young or old, you will also have:
less chance of cancer, heart attack, and lung disease, better blood
circulation, healthier family members, particularly children and grandchildren,
a healthy lifestyle example for your children and grandchildren, no odor of
smoke in your clothes and hair, and a more sensitive sense of smell.
What Smoking Does
damages your lungs and airways. Air passages swell and, become filled with
mucus. This can cause a cough that won't go away. Sometimes this leads to a
lung disease called chronic bronchitis. If you keep smoking, normal breathing
may become harder and harder as emphysema develops. In emphysema, airways
become blocked as the tissue of your lungs undergoes changes that make getting
enough oxygen difficult. Smoking can shorten your life. It brings an early
death to more than 400,000 people in the United States each year. Lifelong
smokers have a 1 in 2 chance of dying from a smoking-related disease. Smoking
doesn't just cut a few months off the end of your life. It reduces the life of
the average smoker by 12 years. Smoking makes millions of Americans sick by
If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol and also smoke, you
increase your chance of having a heart attack.
Smoking causes cancer of the lungs, mouth, larynx (voice box), stomach and
esophagus. It plays a role in cancer of the pancreas, kidney, bladder, the
cervix and breast in women and testicular cancer in men. The chance of getting
cancer grows as you smoke more cigarettes, smoke more years, or inhale deeply.
If you smoke, you are more likely than a nonsmoker to get the flu, pneumonia,
or other infections that can interfere with your breathing (such as colds). Flu
and pneumonia are very dangerous for older people and thousands of seniors die
every year from the flu and pneumonia.
If you are an older woman who smokes, your chance of developing osteoporosis is
greater. Women who are past menopause tend to lose bone strength and sometimes
develop this bone-weakening disorder. Bones weakened by osteoporosis fracture
more easily. Also, women smokers begins menopause sooner than the average woman
does. Men can also develop osteoporosis and suffer bone damage and fractures.
As soon as you
stop smoking, your heart and arteries and veins that blood flows through start
getting better. Your chance of heart attack, stroke, and other circulatory
diseases begins to drop. The flow of blood to your hands and feet gets
stronger. Your breathing may be more difficult in the first few weeks, but
should become easier a few months after your last cigarette. Quitting smoking
can't undo permanent lung damage. It may, however, help slow further damage to
the lungs. Your chance of getting cancer from smoking also begins to shrink.
Within 10 to 15 years after quitting, the risk of cancer and heart disease is almost
as low as that of a nonsmoker.
Nicotine is a very
addictive drug. At first, when you smoke, nicotine makes you feel good and you
want to smoke more. Soon, your body starts to need more nicotine in order to
feel good. Then you smoke even more to keep getting that pleasurable feeling.
The first few
weeks after quitting are the hardest. Some people who give up smoking have
withdrawal symptoms. You may become grumpy, hungry, or tired. You may have
headaches, feel depressed, or have problems sleeping
or concentrating. Some people have no withdrawal symptoms at all. You may be
worried about gaining weight if you stop smoking. Many people who stop smoking
gain little or no weight. Those who do gain usually add less than 10 pounds.
But, even if you add a few pounds, you will be healthier than if you continued
Breaking the Habit
Smoking is a
strong addiction for both your body and mind. That is why it is so hard to
stop. But, people do succeed. There is help. You can: read self-help literature,
take a quit-smoking class, use individual or group counseling, join a support
group, get a friend to quit with you, take medicine to
help with nicotine withdrawal, or use nicotine replacement therapy.
Each person is
different. Find what works best for you. Sometimes combining several methods is
the answer. Many people can stop on their own. Others
need help from doctors, clinics, or organized groups. The first step is to make
a firm decision to quit. Then, choose a date to stop smoking, and pick one or
more methods for quitting.
When you quit, you
may need special help to cope with your body's desire for nicotine. Nicotine
replacement therapy can help control withdrawal symptoms, but it's not for
everyone. Check with your doctor first. The Naval Hospital only offers the
nicotine patch and you must attend the tobacco cessation class to receive the
There is a drug to
help handle your cravings called Zyban. It does not contain nicotine and must
be prescribed by your doctor. The most common side effects are dry mouth and
problems getting to sleep.
At the Naval
Hospital, Zyban and the nicotine patches are only available when you attend the
tobacco cessation class.
Cigars, Chewing Tobacco, and Snuff Are Not
Some people think
smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco and snuff), pipes, and cigars are safer than
cigarettes. They are not. Using smokeless tobacco can cause cancer of the
mouth, nicotine addiction, and possibly cancer of the larynx and esophagus, as
well as tooth and heart problems. Pipe and cigar smokers may develop cancer of
the mouth, lip, larynx, pharynx, and esophagus. Those who inhale have the same
chance of lung cancer as cigarette smokers have.
If You Are Around Someone Who Smokes
smoking happens when a nonsmoker breathes smoke from someone else's cigarette,
pipe, or cigar. It is also called secondhand smoke. We now know that such
secondhand smoke is unsafe. Over 50,000 Americans die every year from disease
caused by someone else’s tobacco use.
Passive smoking is
very dangerous for someone with asthma, other lung conditions, or heart
disease. It may cause bronchitis, pneumonia, an asthma attack, or inner ear
infections in babies and young children. It is associated with SIDS (sudden
infant death syndrome). These problems are just some good reasons for a parent
or grandparent to think about quitting smoking. Everyone should try not to
smoke around young children or infants.
Where To Get Help
you have TRICARE Prime or TRICARE For Life, you can
attend the Tobacco Cessation Classes in the
Call 830-2814 for more information about class schedules and to sign up. You
can also access the DoD tobacco cessation website at
www.ucanquit2.org to get help quitting tobacco.
Robert E Bush