What is Smoking Cessation?
Smoking cessation refers to the process of quitting the habit of smoking. Everyone knows that quitting smoking is very hard work due to the highly addictive nicotine content in tobacco. But it is also widely known that cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and other forms of tobacco, such as cigars and chewing tobacco have many harmful and deadly health effects on the body.
This blog is here to educate, inspire, and help people along the path to successful cessation.
Health Risks of Smoking
The health risks of smoking are serious. Tobacco use in any form is a leading cause of cancer. Individuals who smoke tobacco products or are regularly around tobacco smoke from others (known as secondhand smoke) have an increased risk of cancer. Tobacco products, and the secondhand smoke they produce, have many different chemicals that damage DNA.
The types of cancer caused by tobacco are many: lung, larynx (your voice box), mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, liver, stomach, kidney, colon and rectum, pancreas, cervix, and acute myeloid leukemia. People who use smokeless tobacco such as snuff or chewing tobacco also have increased risks of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas.
Cigarette smoking increases your risk of severe illness from Covid 19. Covid 19 is a disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory system. It can affect your sinuses, nose, throat, windpipe, and lungs. Smoking can weaken lung tissue and make it at greater risk for infection.
In addition to covid risk and cancers, smoking:
- Increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart failure
- Damages blood
- vessels and increases the likelihood that your arteries will become obstructed
- Thickens blood, increasing the risk of clot formation
- Damages lungs, by causing emphysema and chronic obstructive lung disease
- Increases risk for high blood pressure, asthma, erectile dysfunction, ulcers, and more.
- Makes it harder for you to get over infections, recover from major surgery, and survive a heart attack
The bottom line is this: the list of risks from smoking seems endless, and there is just no safe level of tobacco use.
Smoking Cessation Benefits
Now for the good news: the health benefits of smoking cessation can be immediate and continue to give for years and years. It is never too late to reap the benefits of quitting.
People who stop smoking or using other forms of tobacco use, regardless of their age, have significant gains in life expectancy compared to those who never quit. Even quitting at the time of a cancer diagnosis reduces the risk of death in many cases.
The benefits of smoking cessation come quickly! Consider these health benefits that often occur after you stop smoking a cigarette:
- 20 minutes: pulse returns to normal
- 8 hrs: oxygen levels return to normal
- 24 hrs: blood pressure drops, risk of heart attack decreases
- 48 hrs: ability to smell increases
- 72 hrs: breathing becomes easier
- 5-10 days: cravings for nicotine begin to decrease
- 2 – 12 weeks: coughing reduces, circulation improves, physical activity becomes easier
- 1 year: lungs become much more capable of fighting infections
Why Health Facilities Implement No Smoking
Something fundamental to keep in mind about smoking is this: smokers are harming not only themselves but also the health of those around them. For this reason, smoking is increasingly prohibited in public places and many private facilities across the country.
Health facilities like hospitals and healthcare clinics are increasingly making their facilities smoke-free zones. Administrators cannot reconcile providing health care and advocating for healthy habits with allowing people to smoke around people whose health may be compromised as they come to their facility to seek care.
Extensive research has been done on secondhand smoke from a cigarette or pipe. It is now indisputable that this secondhand smoke has very harmful effects on people breathing it in unintentionally.
The same diseases and cancers that can impact smokers can impact nonsmokers who are regularly around secondhand smoke. Exposure to secondhand smoke causes cancers, diseases, and premature death among nonsmokers.
Secondhand becomes embedded in hair and fabric and builds up on hard surfaces, placing others at risk even long after the smoker has left the room, and the smoke is no longer in the air. No matter how much a smoker washes their hands, spritzes their breath, or tries to “febreeze” the smell away, the residue of secondhand smoke is left behind, causing health hazards.
There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke; even brief exposures can cause immediate harm.
Ways to Quit Smoking
There are multiple pathways to quitting. Combining these pathways is often the most effective way to achieve success. Try one or more of these supports and treatments with the guidance of your doctor or therapist.
- Behavior therapy
- Medication to help with cravings
- Nicotine replacement therapy containing products, such as nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers, and nasal sprays
If you are ready to stop smoking, talk to your primary care provider for support and guidance on which cessation programs might be best for you. Search for a local support group and resources in your community. Let all your family and friends know you are determined to quit smoking so they can support you.
At Catawba Valley Healthcare Center, we want to do everything we can to keep our patients and employees healthy and free of the dangers of tobacco products. If you need help quitting smoking, contact our Primary Care Clinic or Mental Healthcare Services today.
We look forward to helping you on your pathway to smoking cessation in 2023.