Northwestern Press

Friday, January 17, 2020

Healthy Geezer: More tips to quit tobacco

Friday, January 8, 2016 by FRED CICETTISpecial to The Press in Focus

Last of three parts

If you smoke, you owe it to yourself to quit. And I believe you have an obligation to try to help others to quit. You can place this column and the two previous columns on bulletin boards and refrigerators. I recommend giving them to a smoker you love.

Here are some more matters to consider concerning tobacco.

Cigarette smokers die younger than nonsmokers. Smoking shortens lives by about 14 years.

Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Tobacco use causes 443,000 deaths each year.

Because of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (“second-hand smoke”), an estimated 3,000 nonsmoking Americans die of lung cancer every year.

Tobacco use accounts for about one third of all cancer deaths in the United States.

Smoking causes almost 90 percent of lung cancer.

More than 7 million smokers and former smokers suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the name used to describe both chronic bronchitis and emphysema. About 85 percent of COPD deaths are caused by smoking.

About 80 percent of smokers would like to quit.

It’s never too late to quit. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how long you’ve smoked.

Within minutes of smoking the last cigarette, the body begins to restore itself. After two weeks, circulation and lung function improve. A year after quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s. At 10 years, the lung cancer death rate is cut in half. At 15 years after quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker’s.

Some smokers can stop “cold turkey.” Others need help with drugs and behavior modification. Relapse rates are the highest in the first few weeks. Relapse rates decrease substantially after about three months.

One study found that the greatest reductions in cigarette use were achieved when smoking became more expensive and alternative recreational activities were provided.

Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) are medicines that relieve a smoker’s nicotine withdrawal symptoms. NRTs are available as patches, gums, inhalers, nasal sprays and lozenges. NRTs should be used with behavioral modification.

Bupropion (Zyban) is a prescription antidepressant that affects brain chemicals involved in craving nicotine.

Varenicline (Chantix) reduces the pleasurable effects of smoking and helps reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

If you want to quit smoking and need help, contact one of the following organizations:

American Cancer Society,; American Heart Association,; American Lung Association,; National Cancer Institute,; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Office on Smoking & Health,;,

If you have been a tobacco, user you should have regular oral exams by a physician or dentist. These exams will detect changes that could be cancer or a precursor of cancer.

Cancer and other conditions of the lung have the following symptoms: a cough, a change in cough, coughing up blood, hoarseness, difficulty breathing, wheezing, headaches, chest pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, general fatigue and repeated respiratory infections. However, many lung cancers have no apparent symptoms until they are advanced.

If you have been a tobacco user or continue to smoke or chew, it’s critical that you get regular medical attention.

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© 2016 Fred Cicetti