The Great American Smoke Out

The Great American Smokeout, sponsored by the American Cancer Society each year during the third week of November, challenges smokers to give up cigarettes for 24 hours.  With the hopes of people making it those first 24 hours without a cigarette, just maybe some individuals will decide to quit after all.

The process starts with a plan, your tailored plan, to quit smoking for good.  Discuss options to assist you with quitting by having a conversation with your physician.  Talk about different products such as nicotine patches, gum, lozenges or even non-nicotine medications that may help you.  You may also want to consider a counselor, friend, or family member that can help you and give you that moral support you may need to be successful in this quitting journey.

Go through your home and get rid of anything smoking related, such as ash trays, lighters and extra cigarettes hidden in the cupboard.  Remember to clean out the console in your vehicle and that desk drawer at work too.  Remove these temptations from your life.

When possibly looking for ways that may help you quit smoking, remember that the best practice is: “Don’t just switch, Quit tobacco for good.”

Switching to E-Cigarettes, or Vaping, is not quitting smoking.  Although vaping is less harmful than smoking, it is still not safe.  E-cigarettes heat nicotine extracted from tobacco, use flavorings and other chemicals to create an aerosol that you inhale. These are still tobacco products that produce a number of dangerous chemicals and inhaling these harmful chemicals can cause irreversible lung damage, lung diseases and even death.

The FDA, Food and Drug Administration, has not found any E-cigarettes to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit.

Here are some Vaping facts you need to be aware of:

  1. Vaping is less harmful than smoking but it is still not safe
  2. Research suggests that Vaping is bad for your heart and lungs
  3. Electronic cigarettes are just as addictive as traditional cigarettes
  4. Electronic cigarettes are not the best smoking cessation tools and have not been approved by the FDA for such use
  5. A new generations is getting hooked on nicotine by using E-cigarettes or Vaping and they are becoming more popular than any traditional tobacco product.

There are a lot of different benefits to quitting smoking.  Your body will start receiving more oxygen over time and you will notice you have more energy.  This could be a way to start enjoying activities again that maybe you haven’t been able to do.  If you have had a “smokers cough” over time this will improve, and in time, clear up.  As your lungs begin cleaning themselves out, you will get rid of excess mucus.

Your sense of taste and smell should improve over time.  You may be able to start enjoying foods again that haven’t been as appealing when you were smoking.  Or be able to notice those fresh aromas again.

The health benefits to quitting smoking are numerous.  Your risk of heart attack and stroke will be reduced.  The risk factors in continued damage to the lungs, or developing lung cancer, can be reduced.  You may even find that you have fewer colds or respiratory infections over time.

By taking this leap and quitting smoking, or even starting by reducing the amount of cigarettes you smoke daily, can have a significant impact on your life.  You are not only improving your life but the lives around you.  Second hand smoke can be just as harmful to your family and friends. There are programs available to assist you in quitting smoking.  The American Lung Association, The American Cancer Society, The National Institute on Aging, and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all have helpful information on their websites.  And by discussing this with your Primary Care Provider, their office can also get you information on successfully quitting smoking for good.

If you are dealing with any breathing issues, please contact your Primary Care Provider or reach out to our Respiratory Therapist at 507-831-0647 to ask questions about our available Respiratory Care programs at Windom Area Health.

By Rhonda Wahl, RRT, Respiratory Therapy Coordinator

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