Healthy Living: Quitting smoking is tough but worth it


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Smoking cigarettes continues to be a major medical hazard in the United States, where it is estimated that approximately 32 million Americans smoke tobacco.

Dr. Jim Polo is the behavioral health medical director with Regence and he says every year, 500,000 people die as a result of smoking-related disease,"50 percent have some tobacco-related disease, of which many have lung cancer."

He says now might be the time to follow through on a new year’s resolution to quit.

If you have tried to quit in the past, you know it isn’t easy, and oftentimes, it takes more than once to be successful. However, if the standard ailments associated with smoking aren’t enough to encourage you, add COVID-19 into the mix.

Dr. Polo says, "People that smoke are more at risk to get infected with COVID and more likely to have a bad outcome from the COVID infection."

Dr. Polo says the benefits of not smoking are significant. within minutes of quitting, the heart rate lowers. Within one to two months, you may have less of a cough and less shortness of breath… and within one-two years of kicking the habit, "The risk of heart attack drops off."

So what are some things to keep in mind if you are going to be successful with quitting? First, Dr. Polo says, make a plan on how you will stop and follow evidence-based methodologies. It is important to remember, vaping is not an approved approach to quitting, "No e-cigarettes have been FDA approved as a quit-smoking device."

Next, he says learn from your experiences in the past. Slip-ups will happen, remember, that is not necessarily a sign of failure, "If at first you don’t succeed, try try again."

Dr. Polo says don’t try to quit alone. Take advantage of resources like support groups and hotlines. Finally, talk to your doctor, "There are many medications that are available that are FDA approved to help you stop smoking."

Wth the added stress, anxiety and boredom we are experiencing right now, quitting may seem like too big of a hill to climb, but experts say now is actually the perfect time to reflect on the benefits of quitting, and how you can do it... with some help, "Anybody and everybody can quit smoking."


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