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Don’t let tobacco steal another day of your life


Renee Hughey, R.T.

March 11 is National No Smoking Day and what a prefect opportunity to begin the journey to a tobacco-free lifestyle. No use waiting until the new year or your birthday or some other landmark event, the longer you wait to stop smoking the less days you may have to live a healthy life.

Did You Know?

• Tobacco use is the number-one preventable cause of death in the U.S. and causes more deaths than those from alcohol and illegal drug use, HIV, motor-vehicle injuries, suicide and murders combined.
• Cigarette smoking causes 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in men and almost 80 percent of lung cancer deaths in women.
• Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 known chemicals, many of which are proven to cause cancer.
• Smokeless tobaccos are NOT safe alternatives to cigarettes and they can lead to many health problems. A recent study found that people who use smokeless tobacco are almost four times more likely to get cancer of the mouth, lips and gums.

If at first you don’t succeed . . .

Most smokers want to quit smoking and most have tried to stop at least once. Succeeding is the hard part. The most important thing is having a real desire to quit. Without that, no amount of help from physicians or medicines will keep you from smoking. Even when a person decides to stop smoking it may take several attempts and perhaps trying different methods, before they succeed.
When you begin your journey to a tobacco-free lifestyle, choosing other activities over tobacco can help. It takes time to learn new habits to replace the old, especially because when you smoke and nicotine enters your brain, you may feel happy, less anxious and more relaxed. When you try not to smoke you may feel sad, anxious and agitated, but just know that in a few days your brain and the natural chemicals in your body will return to normal.

Plan ahead

Planning ahead to have other options when you want to smoke is key to being successful. You know the craving will be there, so plan beforehand how to deal with them.

• Find activities that use your hands, like sewing, carving, working puzzles, playing cards, etc.
• Keep gum or low-fat, low-calorie snacks on hand.
• Call a friend when the craving gets overwhelming.
• Have an accountability buddy to help keep you on track with your goal. 
• Repeat this to yourself, “I can learn to relax and socialize without a cigarette.”
• Make an extra effort to share your day with a friend, a child or even a pet.
• If the urge to smoke gets too strong, start doing something until the urge passes.
• Deep breathing is a good way to deal with stress almost anywhere and at any time.
 
Get the support you need

The Arizona Smokers’ Helpline, 800 556-6222 or ashline.org offers quit tobacco coaching over the telephone in both English and Spanish, as well as web-based quit programs at no cost. Medication assistance is also available. Quit tobacco medications have been show to double your success over trying to quit “cold turkey.”

Renee Hughey, R.T., is a respiratory therapist at Flagstaff Medical Center.



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