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By Aime Lykins, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs
Quitting tobacco use is a great way to improve overall health, both internally and externally. However, stopping tobacco use can be challenging because nicotine, a chemical in tobacco, is highly addictive and is one of the strongest, deadliest addictions one can have. It can take several tries to quit for good, but trying to quit is always valuable. Struggling to quit using tobacco is common and may take several attempts before quitting for good.
For more than 40 years, the American Cancer Society has hosted the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November. The Great American Smokeout is an opportunity for people who smoke to commit to healthy, smoke-free lives. The Great American Smokeout provides an opportunity for individuals, community groups, businesses, and health care providers to encourage people to make a plan to quit.
Kicking a tobacco habit offers immediate rewards such as saving money, reduction in heart rate and blood pressure, and increased self-confidence. Within three weeks of quitting, circulation and lung function can improve and the health improvements increase exponentially over time. Individuals who have stopped tobacco use may see their risk of heart attack drop dramatically. Quitting also helps stop damaging effects including premature skin wrinkling, gum disease and tooth loss.
Additionally, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. According the Washington State Department of Health, secondhand smoke is the cause of an estimated 49,400 lung cancer and heart disease deaths among non-smokers every year in the U.S., and is known to cause asthma and chronic respiratory infections. Research by the American Cancer Society clearly shows that secondhand smoke causes many health problems, including cancer, heart disease and respiratory illness
Research conducted by the Mayo Clinic found that thirdhand smoke is also a concerns as it is made up of the pollutants that settle indoors when tobacco is smoked. The chemicals in thirdhand smoke include nicotine as well as cancer-causing substances such as formaldehyde, naphthalene and others. Thirdhand smoke builds up on surfaces over time, becoming embedded in most soft surfaces such as clothing, furniture, drapes, bedding and carpets. It also settles as dust-like particles on hard surfaces such as walls, floors and in vehicles. It cannot be eliminated by airing out rooms, opening windows, using fans or air conditioners, or confining smoking to only certain areas of a home. Thirdhand smoke poses a potential health hazard to nonsmokers, especially children. Infants and young children are at greater risk for exposure to thirdhand smoke than adults due to activities such as crawling and putting non-food items in their mouths.
The American Cancer Society reports that quitting smoking lowers the risk of various cancers, including cancers of the stomach, pancreas, liver, cervix, and colon and rectum. Quitting tobacco use at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke.
Naval Hospital Bremerton provides tobacco cessation support. To find out more, call 360-475-4818.
Washington State Tobacco Quit Line (quitnow.net/washington): The quit line connects individuals with a quit coach who will help create a plan to stop smoking, answer questions and provide easy-to-follow materials that will aid the quitting process.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov/tobacco/): The program provides in-depth research results, local and national reports, and tips to quit.
American Cancer Society (cancer.org/ cancer/risk-prevention/tobacco.html): The American Cancer Society outlines steps to take to quit smoking and provides smoking cessation programs, resources, and support that can increase the chances of quitting successfully. To learn about the available tools, call 1-800-227- 2345 or use the website’s live chat option.