News Release

Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
Visit us at www.nwhealth.org


Help for smokers to keep their New Year's resolution to quit

It's barely mid-January and most of us have already abandoned our New Year's resolutions. According to Lynne DeMoor, who coordinates the Health Department's Tobacco Reduction Coalition, quitting smoking may be the most important resolution a smoker ever makes.

“My advice to smokers?” she said, “Don't quit quitting. It often takes several tries before a smoker quits tobacco for good.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) & Prevention, almost 50 million smokers have successfully quit. In fact, since 2002, the number of former U.S. smokers has exceeded the number of current smokers.

Improve Your Health

Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals and chemical compounds, many of which are toxic or cause cancer. Smoking is one cause of dangerous plaque buildup inside your arteries. Plaque is made of cholesterol and scar tissue. It clogs and narrows your arteries. This can trigger chest pain, weakness, heart attack, or stroke. Plaque can rupture and cause clots that block arteries. Completely blocked arteries can cause sudden death.

“Fortunately, people who stop smoking can greatly reduce their risk for disease and premature death, said DeMoor. “And the younger you are when you quit, the better your chance for avoiding these problems. So don't wait!”

Quitting smoking:

If you quit smoking, you will also help protect your children, family, and friends from exposure to secondhand smoke that can cause immediate harm to the nonsmokers who breathe it.

Harm to Others Exposed to Tobacco Smoke

When others are exposed to secondhand smoke from cigarettes, platelets in their blood get sticky and may form clots, just like in a person who smokes. This exposure increases their risk for heart attack and death. Secondhand smoke can also cause lung cancer.

Harm to Children

If babies and children are exposed to secondhand smoke from cigarettes, they may suffer from bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear infections. Exposure may make them wheeze and cough more often. If they have asthma, breathing in secondhand smoke from cigarettes can trigger an attack that may be severe enough to send them to the hospital. Secondhand smoke also causes sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

There is no safe amount of secondhand exposure. Breathing even a little secondhand smoke can be dangerous. Quitting smoking will improve your health and protect others from exposure to secondhand smoke. Although no single approach works best for everyone, many effective quit methods are available. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about quitting, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW, or visit www.smokefree.gov for free information and support. You can get ready by setting a quit date in the next few days and by changing your environment (e.g., get rid of all cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car, and place of work and don't let people smoke in your presence). Also, think about your past attempts to quit. Think about what worked and what did not. And once you quit, don't smoke.

Get support and encouragement. Studies have shown that you have a better chance of being successful if you have help. You can get support in many ways. For example, tell your family, friends, and coworkers that you are going to quit and want their support. Ask them not to smoke around you or leave cigarettes out where you can see them.

Talk to your health care provider (doctor, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, psychologist, or smoking cessation coach or counselor). Get individual, group, or telephone counseling. Counseling doubles your chances of success. The more help you have, the better your chances are of quitting. Counseling can help you identify and overcome situations that trigger the urge to smoke. Free programs are available at local hospitals and health centers. Call your local health department for information about programs in your area. Telephone counseling is also available free of charge at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

Try to distract yourself from urges to smoke. Talk to someone, go for a walk, or get busy with a task. When you first try to quit, change your routine. Use a different route to work. Eat breakfast in a different place. Do something to reduce your stress. Take a hot bath, exercise, or read a book. Plan something enjoyable to do every day. Drink a lot of water and other fluids. Talk to your doctor about medication. Medications can help you stop smoking and lessen the urge to smoke.

Quit counseling can be combined with over-the-counter or prescription medications, too. Counseling and medication are effective when used by themselves for treating tobacco dependence. However, the combination of counseling and medication is more effective than either alone.

“Regardless of how you decide to quit, whether you use medicines, counseling, or simply stopping smoking now, the most important thing is to try and stick to it,” DeMoor said.

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information visit www.smokefree.gov.


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