Smoking/Vaping

Do you smoke? If you do, why did you start? Or do you even remember?

People smoke for a wide variety of reasons – peer pressure, parental influence, stress factors, friends who smoke, hunger, just wanted to try it, or thought it was the cool thing to do.

But, it’s not too late to quit.

The Great American Smokeout will be observed on Thursday, November 16. Supported by the American Cancer Society, this is an opportunity for people who smoke to commit to healthy, smoke-free lives – not just for a day, but year round, for the rest of their lives. Thousands of people across the country take this step toward a healthier lifestyle. There are resources out there to support you.

So, just how addictive is smoking?

Addiction to nicotine in cigarettes is one of the strongest and most deadly addictions one can have. Quitting is hard for many people who smoke. It takes commitment and starts with a plan, often takes more than one attempt to quit, and requires a lot of support. Often, the younger you were when you started to smoke, the more intense the addiction.

Inhaled smoke delivers nicotine to the brain within 20 seconds, which makes it very addictive – comparable to opioids, alcohol, and cocaine. This “rush” is a major part of the addictive process. When the person stops using tobacco, nicotine levels in the brain drop.

Nicotine is the drug in tobacco that causes pleasant feelings and distracts the user from unpleasant feelings. Over time, a person becomes physically dependent on and emotionally addicted to nicotine. This physical dependence causes unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit smoking or other forms of tobacco. There are mental and emotional effects, too. Nicotine actually affects brain chemistry and emotions.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, “Smoking cessation [stopping smoking] represents the single most important step that people who smoke can take to enhance the length and quality of their lives.” Quitting is hard, but you can increase your chances of success with help.

Remember, tobacco addiction is both mental and physical. For most people, the best way to quit will be some combination of medicine, a method to change personal habits, and emotional support.

Cigarette smoking, the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the U.S. alone. That’s one in five deaths. It causes about 90 percent of all lung cancer, 80 percent of all deaths from COPD; increases the risk for death from all causes in men and women, and the risk of dying from smoking has increased during the last 50 years.

Did you know that cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causes many diseases, and reduces the health of smokers in general. If nobody smoked, one of every three cancer deaths in the U.S. would not happen.

Quitting smoking is one of the most important actions people can take to improve their health. This is true regardless of their age or how long they have been smoking. Quitting can add years to your life.

The ACS does not recommend the use of e-cigarettes as a cessation method. No e-cigarette has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a safe and effective way to quit smoking; however, nicotine-containing e-cigarettes are regulated as “tobacco products” by the FDA because the nicotine is derived from the tobacco plant.

Using e-cigarettes, or “vaping,” are terms used to refer to the use of a wide variety of electronic, battery-operated devices that aerosolize, but do not burn, liquids to release nicotine and other substances. Many e-cigarettes sold in the U.S. contain far more nicotine than e-cigarettes sold elsewhere.

If you have thought about trying to kick a smoking habit, you’re not alone. Nearly 7 of 10 smokers say they want to stop. The American Cancer Society has a variety of ways to help you quit. Helplines are available along with phone apps, medications, smoking cessation classes, and more to make your journey to a tobacco-free life easier.

If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for those you love and those who love you.