Be a Quitter for Life: Stop Smoking

According to Dr. Ethan Argiris, an oncologist at UPMC Cancer Centers, lung cancer kills more men and women than any other type—and smoking is the primary culprit, accounting for 80% of lung cancers. Kicking the habit is the single greatest change you can make to improve your health.
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Half of all cigarette smokers will eventually die from the habit.

Why You Should Quit

  • According to the National Institutes of Health, the earlier you start smoking, and the more packs of cigarettes you smoke each day, the higher your risk of lung cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that half of all cigarette smokers will eventually die from the habit.
  • The lung cancer rate of a former smoker is about half that of a continuing smoker within 10 years of quitting. "Only 30% of patients with lung cancer present with early-stage disease," says Dr. Argiris. Most patients are diagnosed when the cancer has already spread throughout the lungs — or to other parts of the body. "If you take all patients together, the 5-year survival is about 15%.” Late-stage cancers have a survival rate of only 1-2%.
  • "[Deaths] due to smoking [are] also directly correlated with cardiovascular disease, burn deaths, prenatal conditions, and a host of respiratory conditions," says Dr. Donald Gibala, Executive Director of the Community Health Challenge of Southwestern PA, a coalition of regional health professionals. Smokers suffer higher rates of heart attacks, strokes, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema, and increased risk of developing other cancers, including esophageal, stomach, bladder and cervical cancer.
  • Secondhand smoke puts your family, friends and co-workers at risk, causing or aggravating a variety of illnesses including lung cancer, asthma and respiratory infections. Young children are especially vulnerable.
  • Smokers have a higher incidence of pulmonary complications from the flu due to weakened lungs and immune system.

 

FREE Yourself from Tobacco

  • Find a "quit coach," or consider attending tobacco cessation classes. Share your decision to stop smoking with family and friends and enlist their support. For additional encouragement, convince a buddy to quit with you!
  • Replace tobacco with other activities. Call a friend when you crave a cigarette at work, or reach for a pack of gum instead of a pack of cigarettes after meals. Become more active — whether it’s through a formal fitness program or just an increase in physical activity, regular exercise can motivate you to be healthier overall.
  • Expect challenges. Determine your personal smoking habits – are you a social smoker? Or is your addiction linked to other activities, such as eating or drinking alcohol?  Take work breaks with nonsmokers, ask friends not to smoke in your car, and try to restrict meals and alcohol intake to smoke-free establishments. The more often you successfully fight cravings, the more likely you are to stay a nonsmoker.
  • Enlist the help of experts. Ask your physician about nicotine replacement products, such as nicotine patches or gum — or prescription drugs that can help reduce cravings. Residents in Pennsylvania are fortunate to have access to a free quit line — 1-800-Quit-Now (1-800-784-8669)," says, Leanne Schepner, Regional Director of Corporate Relations for the American Cancer Society. The line is available to residents in all states.

 

Resources for quitting smoking

 

Source: American Lung Association - How to Quit

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