The Great American Smokeout is an annual event celebrated this year on Nov. 16 by the American Cancer Society.
What is the Great American Smokeout?
It is a day to promote healthy and tobacco-free lives. The date may be used for a quit date or it may be used to come up with a plan to quit. It challenges people to quit not for just that day, but for life. If you can get through Nov. 16 without using tobacco, you can get through two days, then three days and more. It also helps tobacco users learn about the tools used to quit. By quitting on Nov. 16 (yes, even for one day) tobacco users will take an important step toward a healthier life and will reduce their cancer risk.
What tools are available to help you quit?
Books, apps, websites, social workers, public health nurses, providers and a clinical pharmacist are available to assist with tobacco cessation. Allen Carr’s book, “Easy Way to Stop Smoking” challenges the smoker to re-think the way they think about cigarettes. It examines the difference in physical addiction and mental dependency. It provides a way for the reader to think of quitting as a fact and not as a dream.
The Stay Quit Coach app for phones from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers information, exercises, tailored reminders and resources. It can help anyone, including veterans and service members.
The website, www.ucanquit2.org, provides information about tobacco cessation, a texting program or chat function so smokers can interact with others who are trying to become tobacco free.
The Wiesbaden Army Health Clinic has social workers available in Behavioral Health, Public Health Nursing in the Army Wellness Center building, and providers and a clinical pharmacist available in the WAHC to assist with smoking cessation.
Why should you quit?
You will quickly improve your health, save money and be a good role model for other Soldiers and children.
Some of the side effects of smoking, which should improve after quitting, include:
- shortness of breath
- loss of smell and taste
Within 20 minutes of finishing a cigarette, the heart rate drops to a normal level. After quitting for:
- 14 to 90 days, the risk of having a heart attack drops and lung function starts to improve
- one to nine months, shortness of breath and coughing decrease
- one year, the risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a tobacco user
- five to 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 about half 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 Family members in the household who breathe in secondhand smoke. An increased risk of disease exists for pets, and an increased risk of asthma, middle ear and respiratory infections exist for children.
What triggers you to smoke during the day?
Triggers are situations that bring on the urge to use tobacco, such as being around other smokers, after eating or drinking alcohol or coffee. Emotional triggers can include feeling sad, stressed, angry, bored and even happy. Nicotine cravings can include craving the taste or 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, if you relapse and smoke, the urge will persist.
How can the WAHC help?
Quitting is hard, but you can increase your chances of success with help. Getting help, whether it be by seeking counseling, taking medications or both, can double or triple the chances of quitting successfully. Over the counter products, such as nicotine replacement therapy are available in the form of patches, gum and lozenges at the clinic after speaking with a member of your tobacco cessation team. Prescription medications, such as bupropion and varenicline, are also available.
Every smoker except those who are pregnant or adolescent, can use tobacco cessation medications and replacement therapies to help them quit. Call the clinic to set up an appointment.
For more information on the Wiesbaden Army Health Clinic Tobacco Cessation Program, call Clinical Pharmacy at DSN 590-1493 or (06371) 9464-1493.