From Our Team
Lent provided good motivation for some smokers to “set their date” and give up smoking. If you are a smoker, you may have fasted from smoking to break the habit. If so, congratulations! If you tried and did not succeed, do not agonize. While a few folks are able to quit on their first attempt, quitting is not easy, and most smokers make multiple quit attempts before stopping completely .
If you smoke and haven’t found your motivation, here are some recent findings that might help. A comprehensive study of health and death records in the United States uncovered some impressive health benefits to smokers who quit, especially to those who quit before the age of 40. The findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, indicate that quitting smoking may be the best way to significantly increase the life expectancy of smokers. In fact, smokers who quit by the age of 40 can increase their life expectancy by up to 10 years. If you are older than 40, quitting is still beneficial and can add up to 6 years to your life. These findings are significant if one considers that smoking is the leading cause of death in middle age.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a former smoker:
- Is less likely to develop cancer and heart disease
- Decreases the risk of developing coronary heart disease by half in just one year;
- Decreases the risk of developing some types of cancer by half in 5 years; and
- Decreases the risk of dying of lung cancer by half in 10 years.
More immediate health benefits include improved circulation and lung function, lower blood pressure, and easier breathing in less than 3 months after quitting. In addition, stopping smoking benefits those around you. Secondhand smoke causes numerous health problems, especially in children and infants. Children who are around smokers are sick more often and experience more respiratory infections, ear infections, and severe asthma attacks than children that are not.
People are more likely to attempt to quit smoking if tobacco cessation resources are covered by their insurance provider. Recent changes to the Affordable Care Act place greater focus on prevention; now, more tobacco cessation resources are covered for smokers to help them quit. Depending upon your health plan, some nicotine-replacement medications and cessation counseling services may be covered. Medicaid now covers comprehensive tobacco cessation services for pregnant women and will cover nicotine-replacement medications by 2014.
Some recommended steps for any effort to quit smoking include:
- Think about why you want to quit,
- Pick a data to quit,
- Stick to it, and
- Build a support system for your quit attempt.
While the forty days of Lent have passed, there are still many significant times to give up smoking. If Catholic holidays motivate you, target Pentecost Sunday (May 19). If not, find another date that is significant to you, and let that day be the first step in your path to greater health.
To learn more about tobacco cessation coverage go to:
If you are thinking about quitting, here are resources to help you get started:
Set Your Date: www.setyourdate.org
Texas Quitline: 1-877-YES-QUIT
Online support: http://www.yesquit.org/
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