Are you ready to quit smoking?

Cigarette smoking is considered the number cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S. According to the World Health Organization, there are currently one billion smokers and almost six million deaths worldwide from tobacco use annually. More than 480,000 people die each year in the U.S. from diseases directly attributable to smoking.

There are many personal costs of smoking:

  • Children − negative role modeling; increased chance of health problems such as coughs, colds and bronchitis, asthma attacks and ear infections; missed days of school due to exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Health − increased health problems, including lingering coughs, colds and flu; periodontal disease and tooth loss; slower wound healing; slower recovery from illness; and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.
  • Appearance − stained teeth; yellowed fingers; hair and clothes smelling of smoke.
  • Performance − more days missed from work; impotence during intimacy.
  • Monetary − amount of money spent on nicotine products; dry cleaning business clothes; doctor visits, hospitalizations and medications; higher insurance premiums.

As soon as you quit smoking, your body begins a series of healing or recovery changes.

The benefits of quitting smoking:

  • 20 minutes after quitting − heart rate drops to a normal level.
  • 12 hours after quitting − carbon monoxide levels in blood normalizes.
  • Two weeks to three months after quitting − risk of having a heart attack begins to drop and your lung function begins to improve.
  • One to nine months after quitting − coughing and shortness of breath decreases.
  • One year after quitting − risk of coronary heart disease decreases by half.
  • Five to fifteen years after quitting − risk of having a stroke is reduced to that of a nonsmoker’s.
  • 10 years after quitting − the risk of getting cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas decreases.
  • 15 years after quitting − the risk of coronary heart disease decreases to the same level of risk as a nonsmoker.

The American Lung Association, or ALA, has a Freedom From Smoking program that is very effective in helping smokers quit smoking. This program requires the participants to meet for seven consecutive weeks with a second meeting during week 4 which is the “quit” week. The program is facilitated by people specially trained by the ALA to help participants identify their reasons for smoking, develop a quit plan, implement that plan and develop a strategy to address the temptation to smoke again. 

If you’re ready to quit, join the next Freedom From Smoking session at Northern Arizona Healthcare’s Verde Valley Medical Center in Cottonwood. The first meeting is on Wednesday, Jan. 24.