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To Your Health: Five keys for quitting use of tobacco products

Updated: December 29, 2012 6:17AM



Nov. 15 marked the American Cancer Society’s 37th anniversary of the Great American Smokeout.

Smokers were encouraged to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day.

By quitting — even for one day — smokers will be taking an important step toward a healthier life — one that can lead to reducing cancer risk.

In 1954, American Cancer Society researchers were among the first to link cigarette smoking to early death from lung cancer.

Most people know that using tobacco can cause lung cancer, but few are aware it’s also a risk factor for many other kinds of cancer, including cancer of the mouth, voice box, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix, stomach and some forms of leukemia.

It’s also linked to a number of other health problems, from heart disease and emphysema to stroke.

And there is no safe way to use tobacco.

Cigars, pipes, chewing and other types of smokeless tobacco all pose serious health risks.

Need more motivation to quit?

It takes just minutes for your body to start healing after you quit smoking. You can look forward to better circulation and lung function and an improved sense of taste and smell.

If you are thinking about quitting below are five keys to help jump start your smoke free journey:

­Get ready

­Set a quit date.

Change your environment

Get rid of all cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car and workplace.

Don’t let people smoke in your home.

Go over your past attempts to quit. Think about what worked and what didn’t.

Once you quit, don’t smoke again — not even a puff.

Get support

Studies have shown that you have a better chance of being successful if you have help.

Tell your family, friends, and co-workers that you are going to quit and want their support. Ask them not to smoke around you and ask them to put their cigarettes out of sight.

Tell your health care providers about your decision to quit. Get individual, group, or telephone counseling. Programs are often given at local hospitals and health centers.

Call (800) 227-2345 for information about programs in your area.

Learn new behaviors

Try to distract yourself from urges to smoke. Go for a walk or get busy with a task.

When you first try to quit, change your routine. For example, use a different route to work.

Do something to reduce your stress — take a hot bath, exercise, or read a book.

Plan to do something enjoyable every day.

Drink a lot of water and other fluids.

Get medication

Medications can help you stop smoking and lessen the urge to smoke.

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the following medications to help you quit smoking:

Available by prescription — Bupropion SR (Zyban), Varenicline (Chantix), nicotine inhaler, nicotine nasal spray

Available over-the-counter — nicotine gum, nicotine patch and nicotine lozenges

Remember to ask your health care provider for advice and carefully read the information on the package.

Be prepared for a relapse

Most relapses occur within the first three months after quitting. Don’t be discouraged if you start smoking again.

Remember, most people try several times before they finally quit for good. Here are some difficult situations to watch for:

Alcohol. When you drink alcohol, it lowers your chances of success. It’s best to avoid drinking.

Other smokers. When you’re around people who smoke, it can make you want to smoke. It’s best to avoid them.

Weight gain. Many smokers gain weight when they quit, usually fewer than 10 pounds. Eat a healthy diet, and stay active. Don’t let weight gain distract you from your main goal — quitting smoking. Some smoking-cessation medicines may help delay weight gain.

Bad mood or depression. There are a lot of ways to improve your mood other than smoking. Take a walk or watch a funny movie.

If you are having problems with any of these situations, talk to your doctor or other health care provider.

When you’re ready to quit tobacco, the American Cancer Society is here to help you locate resources and support available.

Information is at cancer.org/programsandservices.



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