Medical Minutes: Answers to frequently asked questions

Time to Quit Smoking

Siri Akal

MD

Question: Dr. Akal, why should I quit smoking?

Answer: If you love life, and love the people in your life who love you, you’ll do your very best to quit smoking. Why? Because people who smoke die early too often.

One cigarette can shorten your life by about 11 minutes. One cigarette contains more than 4000 chemicals of which 400 are toxic when inhaled. If you smoke around people they breathe in those toxins too!

But why is it you haven’t been able to quit? Because smoking feels good. It stimulates and focuses the mind at the same time that it soothes and satisfies. Ahhhhhh.....

So why stop?

There are short term benefits to you like improved energy, your hair and breath smell better, and you have more money in your pocket! Long-term benefits include better memory, healthier heart and lungs, less cancers, and more life.

So how do I do this?

First write down your reasons for quitting and set a start date, tell your family and friends and get their support, avoid places and people that increase you desire for a cigarette. You can also get medication to help reduce the urges to smoke like Zyban, nicotine replacement gums, patches, nasal sprays, inhalers and lozenges, which have been proved to be safe. Your doctor can help you chose which one is right for you. Most importantly, keep trying!

What if I smoke again?

Don’t feel like a failure. Use the experience to understand why you smoked and see how you can avoid this happening again. Set a new stop date. Many ex-smokers did not succeed at first, but they kept trying. The first few days after stopping will be the hardest and even one puff on a cigarette can cause a relapse so think about all the good benefits to both you and your loved ones for quitting smoking.

New discoveries in genetics may explain why certain people get addicted and others do not. Fewer than one in 10 smokers who go it alone manages to go six months without a cigarette. Most do not make it past a week.

You don‘t have to go it alone. Your doctor is there to help guide you!

You can have the best years living in good health smoke-free!

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