Smoking is one of the most avoidable causes of cancer and other medical conditions, posing one of the largest public health problems. Nearly one in five deaths each year in the United States can be attributed to tobacco use. All forms of tobacco, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco carry the same cancer risk.
Most people associate lung cancer with smoking, but tobacco use can contribute to several other types of cancer as well, including:
- Uterus and cervix
- Mouth and throat
- Larynx and esophagus
- Blood (acute myeloid leukemia)
Additional health problems related to smoking include:
- Stillbirth and premature birth
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Premature menopause
- Hormone imbalance
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) as in chronic bronchitis and emphysema
- Narrowing of blood vessels and heart disease
The National Cancer Institute recommends the START plan to quit smoking.
- S: Set a quit date.
- T: Tell coworkers, friends, and family of your intent to quit smoking.
- A: Anticipate the difficulties ahead.
- R: Remove all tobacco products from home, car and work.
- T: Talk to your physician about getting the help needed to quit smoking.
After you decide to quit, there are some additional steps you can take to make the process easier.
- Identify the reasons you want to quit smoking, and how you think it will benefit you.
- Identify foods and activities associated with smoking so that you can create a plan for avoiding them if necessary. For example, drinking alcohol is often linked to relapse.
- Notify household members that they must not smoke in the house or around you.
- Don’t take work breaks with smokers.
- Have healthy desserts on hand for after-dinner cravings.
- Have oral substitutes available like mints, carrots, celery sticks and gum
Most smoking cessation programs last from 6-12 weeks. Regardless of your plan, therapy or support groups can help ease withdrawal, depression, anxiety, stress, suicidal tendencies and other serious mood or psychological problems may occur during nicotine withdrawal. Therapy and support groups will also help you find new strategies for dealing with stressful situations without nicotine.
There are additional resources that provide information and help; toll free 1-800-QUIT NOW is the national access number to quit line services for each individual state.