The Wiesbaden Army Health Clinic encouraged smokers to quit for one day, as part of the Great American Smokeout. Getting through one day without using tobacco can motivate someone to get through two days, then three days and more. By quitting even for one day tobacco users will be taking an important step toward a healthier life and reducing their cancer risk.
Books, apps, websites, social workers, public health nurses, social workers, providers and a clinical pharmacist are available to assist with tobacco cessation.
Discontinuing the use of tobacco will quickly improve a person’s health, not to mention save a ton of money. Military leaders who quit tobacco use will also model positive behaviors, both for their Soldiers and their own families.
Some of the short-term risks of smoking, which should improve after quitting, include:
• Worsening shortness of breath
• Worsening asthma
• Loss of smell/taste
Within 20 minutes of finishing a cigarette, the heart rate drops to a normal level. After quitting for:
• 14-90 days, the risk of having a heart attack drops and lung function starts to improve
• 1-9 months, shortness of breath and coughing decrease
• 1 year, the risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a tobacco user
• 5-15 years, the risk of having a stroke is reduced to that of a nonsmoker
• 10 years, the risk of dying from lung cancer is half of that of a smoker’s, risk of getting bladder cancer is half that of a smoker, and the risk of getting cancer of the cervix, larynx, kidney or pancreas decreases
• After 15 years, the risk of coronary heart disease is the same as that of a nonsmoker
Quitting will also improve the health of other members of the family who breathe in secondhand smoke. Children exposed to smoke have an increased risk of asthma and middle ear and respiratory infections. Pets also face health risks.
Triggers are situations that bring on the urge to use tobacco.
Types of triggers include:
• External triggers — being around other smokers, after eating, drinking alcohol or coffee
• Emotional triggers — feeling sad, stressed, angry, bored or happy
• Nicotine craving triggers — craving the taste, having withdrawal symptoms
Create a coping plan for your triggers and use the plan to avoid the urge to use tobacco. The urge to smoke is only temporary and will pass if smoking is avoided. Remember, urges to smoke generally last for two to three minutes. However, relapsing and smoking will cause the urge to persist.
How can the WAHC help?
Quitting is hard, but smokers can increase their chances of success with help. Getting help through counseling or medications can double or triple the chances of quitting successfully. Nicotine replacement therapies, such as patches, gum and lozenges, are commercially available without a prescription or through the health clinic after speaking with a member of the tobacco cessation team. Prescription medications can also help reduce and even eliminate tobacco use.
Those interested in tobacco cessation should be aware of their health insurance programs. TRICARE beneficiaries can use the clinic for assistance. Civilians with private insurance may be required to participate in their respective insurance’s program for tobacco cessation. Most, if not all, private health insurance providers offer tobacco cessation programs and medications at no additional cost.
If your insurance allows you to use the Wiesbaden Army Health Clinic, please give the clinic a call and set up your first appointment.
For more information on the WAHC’s tobacco cessation program, call our public health nurse at (06371)9464-1438 or DSN 590-1438.