If you are still smoking — you need to stop

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In 1950 unfortunately 50 percent of American adults smoked cigarettes.

Young, handsome WW II veterans had become accustomed to cigarettes in Europe and Asia. They brought home the habit and Americans picked it up. You only need to watch movies made in the 1950s to see the prevalence and the elegance of smoking in those days.

Cigarettes were everywhere and it appeared that they had a pleasant effect on people. This was before Americans began to understand the dangers of smoking and found that tobacco seemed to be addictive.

Over time, this became our most significant Public Health Dilemma. There are no benefits to smoking. It is an addiction. There are many serious effects, such as heart attacks, strokes, respiratory failure, severe asthma, and cancer of the lung, mouth, and larynx. If you are a smoker, when and if these diseases develop you will have a shortened lifespan.

From the 1950s until now, the cigarette industry has resisted smoking cessation. As CDC and other government agencies discouraged smoking, the tobacco industry poured their advertising budgets into denying the risks and glorifying the “benefits” of smoking cigarettes.

For those of us who lived through the years since 1950 we are aware of the dramatic drop in smokers. Maybe we do not know any smokers and feel, inaccurately, that the problem is over.

Now, 13 percent of American adults smoke. That may not seem like much, yet if 13 percent of adults smoke, that means that one in 10 Americans smokes. Thirty-four million Americans smoke. There are no benefits to smoking. And a smoker who lights up around his or her family members puts them at risk, also.

Most smokers want to stop but cannot stop because of the addiction. They may try, but fail to stop. We all need to encourage them to stop. Medications to help smokers quit are available and patients need to ask their doctors for them.

If they are thinking of quitting, they should begin to listen to the doctor’s plan. According to the CDC the best plan for cessation involves nicotine replacement medication and oral medication such as Chantrix or Zyban. The smoker should be referred for counseling at the same time.

Consider how you might quit before you actually make the move. Find a counselor who will be helpful. Think about the benefits regarding your health and your family’s health. Pick a quit date. Gather medication that your doctor has prescribed. The medications called Chantrix and/or Zyban, which are often helpful, should be started 2 weeks before quit day. The nicotine replacement medication such as gum, patch, or nasal spray should be started on the day you quit.

There is not much to say about smoking that is new or controversial. If you are interested in e-cigarettes, it is a reasonable step since it gets rid of the tar and other material in tobacco. It supplies nicotine, so just like the gum or other nicotine replacement it may help get off regular cigarettes.

The problem is that some people have become ill by the ingredients in e-cigarettes, so it is not strongly recommended. Also, many smokers eventually quit “cold turkey” – and quit for the rest of their lives.

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