This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
On Thursday, millions of Americans across the country will “butt out” as part of the Great American Smokeout. The idea behind the Great American Smokeout, which is sponsored by the American Cancer Society, is to encourage current smokers to kick the habit just for the day, in hopes they will be inspired to become quitters for life.
Smoking is an important risk factor for cancer, heart disease and other negative health effects. Quitting is the most important step a smoker can make to improve his or her health. When a person quits smoking, health benefits begin almost immediately. After only 20 minutes, your heart rate drops to normal, and in a day, the carbon monoxide levels in your blood return to normal as well. Within weeks, your lung function will begin to improve and your risk for heart attack will drop. The longer you stay tobacco free, the more you will experience these benefits. Quitting smoking can help you live longer and improve the quality of your life.
Smoking takes a great toll on health, but hits the wallet pretty hard as well. The American Lung Association found the cost of cigarettes alone will set a pack-a-day smoker back approximately $2,000 per year — that’s a lot of money for many families. When higher-than-average health care costs, lost productivity and wages, and premature death are factored in, suddenly the cost of a pack of cigarettes jumps to $18.
If you’re ready to take the first step to being smoke-free, there are resources to help you begin your journey. The list below includes places to call and smartphone apps to help you achieve success at quitting smoking.
• The Nevada Tobacco Users Helpline is available 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or online at http://www.livingtobaccofree.com/. The Helpline is a free telephone service that has helped thousands of Nevadans quit their tobacco use since 1997. Individuals who enroll in services at the Helpline are five times more likely to successfully quit tobacco than those who try to quit on their own.
QuitSTART helps you track your cravings and moods, monitor your progress toward achieving smoke-free milestones, identify your smoking triggers, and upload personalized “pick me ups.”
• Quit Smoking is a widget application designed to gradually wean you from dependency on cigarettes. Each individual’s step-down program is calculated based on statistical data from other users, and it’s continuously adjusted to your specific smoking pattern.
• Quit it Lite is a tiny motivating program, supporting and encouraging smokers to quit smoking and helping ex-smokers no to re-start.
• Quit Smoking Cessation Nation allows you to see how long it’s been since you stopped smoking, the amount of money you’ve saved, cigarettes not smoked, and health improvements. Play a fun distracting game while you forget about your cravings.
For more information about other Health Department services, check out our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or visit us at www.facebook.com/cchhs.