This is the time of the year most people make New Year’s resolutions. Some we keep and some we do not. If you keep only one … stop using nicotine products.
I say all products because none of the tobacco products have a health benefit. Plain and simple, cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, cigarillos, hookah, snuff, chew and all others are bad for your health. Some are bad for the people around you, including family, friends and pets. What do you need to know? Let us review the health problems tobacco causes, why nicotine is so hard to quit, the health benefits of quitting and tips to help you succeed.
Let’s talk about health: Tobacco has an effect on every system in the body, such as raising your heart rate and causing high blood pressure. Tobacco can cause many types of cancers ranging from the mouth, vital organs, brain, bone and blood. It causes diseases that affect everyday life as seen in COPD, heart disease, stroke, asthma and ear infections, and that is just to name a few. Smokeless tobacco can cause receding gums, making your teeth fall out. Smoking and secondhand smoke exposes you and others to thousands of chemicals. Vaping and secondhand aerosol from vaping are not harmless to your health. The new e-cigarette devices are smaller. They look like a USB drive and have high levels of nicotine, flavored nicotine liquids or nicotine salts. The vapor contains cancer causing chemicals, heavy metals, nicotine, volatile organic compounds and diacetyl, a chemical use to flavor food that is meant to be indigested. It has also been linked to serious lung disease when inhaled. Anything that goes into your lungs, besides clean air, has health risks. Tobacco also has an effect on the brain in the form of nicotine.
Nicotine, found in tobacco products, is highly addictive in any form whether ingested, soaked through the skin or put into the lungs. To put it into perspective, the surgeon general report says it only takes 10 seconds for nicotine from one puff of smoke to reach the brain causing the release of a chemical in the brain called dopamine. This chemical is the “feel good chemical” that brings feelings of happiness and alertness. It is normally released during pleasurable activities such as exercise, eating food and sex. This process is comparable in both aerosol and combustible smoke forms. Nicotine in an underdeveloped brain as in youth can damage the part that controls attention learning, mood and impulse control. This changes the way the brain works increasing risk for future addictions.
Health benefits to quitting tobacco: When you quit using tobacco, a large number of nicotine receptors in your brain return to normal levels. As a result, you might smell, see and hear better. You also will have a cleaner mouth and clear skin. Quitting can lower your blood pressure and heart rate. Your risk of a heart attack declines within 24 hours of quitting. Blood thins and you are less likely to form a blood clot in your heart, brain, lungs or arms or legs. After two weeks, breathing usually becomes easier.
Tips to quit tobacco successfully: Quitting will not be easy for most people. Some people can quit “cold turkey,” but most people will need a plan and assistance to quit. It is best practice to get help to quit tobacco: by talking to your doctor, going or using counseling services and medications such as nicotine replacement for success. You will need to have your plan in place for what to do when withdrawal from nicotine starts to happen. Withdrawal can be unpleasant and could make you irritable. Anyone trying to quit will have triggers that lead back to nicotine. The plan will help you through those moments. If you have a setback, do not give up. Try again; it is important to your health and to those around you. Some resources for you include: Nevada Tobacco Quitline, 1-800-QUIT NOW; quit smoking app for your phone: smokefree.gov; Carson Tahoe Health — Freedom from smoking: 775-445-7651.
For information about services and programs available to you, through Carson City Health and Human Services, please visit our website at gethealthycarsoncity.org, follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cchhs or call us at 775-887-2190. You can also find us at 900 E. Long St. in Carson City.