Monday Medical: Commit to quit tobacco

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The many reasons to quit tobacco can be summed up in one word — freedom.

A person no longer addicted to nicotine is free from constant urges to smoke or chew and from coughing, hoarseness and shortness of breath. Lastly, they are free from the burden of knowing their habit is chipping away at their life and the even the lives of others around them.

Of course, quitting nicotine — like ending any addiction — can be very hard and often involves multiple attempts. Tackling this uphill challenge requires a firm commitment and willingness to take advantage of tobacco cessation support.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. It can lead to severe health problems, including cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (emphysema or chronic bronchitis), heart disease and stroke.

And it is important to note that nonsmoking loved ones and friends are not safe from the affects of second-hand smoke. Second-hand smoke can cause heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults, and sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory problems, ear infections and asthma attacks in children.

Smokeless tobacco (chew or snuff) is not a safe alternative to cigarettes. It can lead to tooth decay, gum problems and mouth sores. Chemicals in smokeless tobacco products also are linked to cancers of the esophagus, mouth and pancreas.

Realizing that tobacco damage doesn’t have to be permanent can help tobacco-users face the quitting process.

Within 20 minutes after quitting smoking, a person’s heart rate and blood pressure drop; circulation and lung function improve within three months of quitting; and within a year of quitting, coronary heart disease risk is reduced 50 percent.

Having a plan to help a person cope with urges, withdrawals and other challenges is one of the most important factors in successfully quitting tobacco.

Prepare for the day you plan to quit. Think about your environment and what you need to change. Get rid of tobacco products and related items such as lighters and ashtrays.

Ask friends or family not to smoke in your presence or leave cigarettes and other tobacco products where you can see them. When you first try to quit, change your routine — take a different route to work or try something new for breakfast.

Nicotine replacement therapy (the patch, gum, lozenges, nasal spray, etc.) and medications that reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms can be helpful in the quitting process.

Professional cessation resources help smokers through difficult steps in the quitting process, such as recognizing triggers and overcoming cravings.

The Colorado QuitLine is a free telephone and online service with trained coaches to help tobacco users develop an individualized quit plan. Qualified enrollees also can receive free nicotine patches.

The QuitLine, available in English and Spanish, has helped more than 260,000 people with their efforts to quit cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. Call 800-QUIT-NOW or go to www.coquitline.org.

Cessation support also is available at the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association. Quit Kits with cessation information and resources are available at no cost in the lobbies of the Northwest Colorado VNA, 940 Central Park Drive, Suite 101 in Steamboat and 745 Russell St. in Craig.

This article includes information from the www.coprevent.org, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov and reports from the U.S. Surgeon General’s office.

Tamera Manzanares is a community outreach specialist for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.

Comments

Michelle Hale 1 year, 8 months ago

Covington & Burling revealed a document in 1992 about what some of 614 different additives in cigarettes. Here are just a few. Acetone is a cleaning solvent and used in making meth. Cyanhydic acid was used in gas chambers in WWII. Methanol used in rocket fuel, antifreeze and solvents. Urethane and Tovene, is used in industrial solvents. Nicotine is used in Moth repellent. Arsenic is a lethal poison. Cadmium used in batteries. DDT an insecticide outlawed in the United States. Vinyl chloride used in plastic material, and of course Carbon monoxide. There is also a radioactive compound, Polonium 210, that also breaks down to radon. But it doesn't stop there. Diammonium phosphate is a fertilizer and fire retardant. Urea, nitrogen found in Urine Levulinic acid, this concentrates, and increases nicotine in cigarettes.

What is often not understood in the amount of sugar that is added to tobacco, both chewing and cigarettes. There are also flavor enhancers some of which are also poisonous. Here is a small list of these compounds. Cocoa shells, Licorice, St. John's Bread also known as carob. Prune juice concentrate, and Angelica Root (very poisonous species.) There is also Dandelion root extract. Sugars are added to produce a more mild smoke and boosting the addictive potency from the smoke. Wait! There is more. Phillip Morris Reynolds lists 158 different additives and 137 of them are flavorings, few that were ever meant to be inhaled. Bergamot oil, fenugreek extract, geranium bourbon oil, ethyl vanillin, tangerine oil, sandalwood and something called immortelle extract. Add in a pinch of cardamom, cinnamon oil, coffee, coriander, and chamomile and of course, corn syrup. You’re going to love this one. There is a compound called "civet absolute" that turns out to be a secretion from the anal gland of a civet cat. Oh but wait there is more! Castoreum a comparable anal secretion from a Siberian beaver.

These many combinations here help the efficiency of the nicotine and the binding in the brain. Cocoa is added for the aroma, but also for its impact as a bronchodilator: Cocoa contains an alkaloid theobromine which makes it easy for the lungs to receive the smoke. It doesn’t stop there. Cigarettes are wrapped in paper that has bleach and glues. Sometime even accelerants are added. There are also other compounds added to adjust the color of the ash, because of the optical connection with smoking. Some tobacco companies have added in the "contamination factor." Things like rubber bands, machine belts, lubricants, ink, glass fibers plastics and color stains. There is also bugs, and worms.

Michelle E. Hale CH.t.

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