Sandra Justice, P.D., FACA
One out of every five deaths each year in the United States is attributed to tobacco use. Clearly, cigarette smoking is the single most preventable cause of death and illness in our country.
Smoking is an established cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Tobacco use also increases risk of impotence, irregular menstrual cycles, and severe gum disease.
Considering the risks involved, and given that the hazards of smoking are common knowledge, an astounding number of Americans still smoke. Between 1991 and 2000 the number of adult smokers rose to around 50 million. The number of teen smokers rose nearly 50 percent, totaling around 6 million.
All commercially available tobacco products deliver sufficient nicotine to establish and sustain dependence or addiction. Nicotine is the psychoactive drug in tobacco products. It stimulates the same pleasure receptors in the brain that alcohol, opioids, and cocaine do. It has come to light as a result of information released by the tobacco companies that these substances are also found in a cigarette:
- Acetone – Found in paint thinner
- Ammonia – The type found in toilet cleaners
- Butane – The fuel for most cigarette lighters
- Beta – Naphthyl Methylether – Yes, this is a mothball
- Hydrogen Cyanide – The poison used in gas chambers
- Methanol – A rocket fuel
Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation
Smoking cessation has substantial and immediate health benefits for men and women of all ages. The time course of health benefits is as follows:
After 20 minutes
Blood pressure and pulse rate return to normal. Circulation improves in hands and feet, making them warmer.
After 8 hours
Oxygen levels in the blood return to normal. Chances of a heart attack start to fall.
After 24 hours
Carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body. The lungs start to clear out mucous and other debris.
After 48 hours
Nerve endings adjust to the absence of nicotine. The ability to smell and taste things is enhanced. Nicotine is no longer detectable in the body.
After 72 hours
Bronchial tubes relax, making breathing easier. Energy levels increase. Lung capacity increases.
2 Weeks to 3 Months
Circulation improves. Walking becomes easier. Lung function increases up to 30%.
3 Months to 9 Months
Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath all decrease. Cilia regrowth occurs in the lungs increasing your body’s ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce infection. Overall lung function is increased by 5-10%.
Heart disease death rate is halfway back to nonsmokers.
Heart disease death rate drops to the rate of nonsmokers. Lung cancer death rate decreases halfway back to that of nonsmokers.
Lung cancer death rate drops to almost the rate for nonsmokers. Precancerous cells are replaced. The incidence of other cancers- of the mouth, larynx, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas all decrease.
Effective smoking cessation strategies are now available that can help you “kick the habit” and stay smoke free. Most cessation efforts in the past have included the smoker’s efforts alone, such as quitting “cold turkey” or using a nicotine replacement product. A higher percentage of successful quit rates are now associated with a multicomponent cessation program. Behavioral modification is the cornerstone and interventions range from professional advice and guidance to in-depth, intensive behavioral modification used with or without drug therapy.
Techniques involved begin with assessing a patient’s motivation level, charting their smoking habits, and evaluating their overall health. From that point a smoking cessation counselor will aid the patient in developing their own plan for quitting, coping with withdrawal symptoms and triggers to smoke, and maintaining a smoke free status. If traditional or alternative drug therapy is deemed appropriate the best product is identified and proper use is reviewed. Importance is placed on involving family members, friends, and co-workers in a patient’s smoking cessation efforts.
Where to turn
Nicotine is perhaps the most difficult addiction to overcome. The most effective smoking cessation strategies include behavior modification, education, and continued support. Pharmacists and other health professionals are involved in cessation counseling efforts. If you smoke but would like additional information concerning smoking cessation, or if you are ready to quit, call a health professional involved in smoking cessation programming. Smoking cigarettes is a serious problem….Give quitting a serious try.