Starting 2023 With a Breath of Fresh Air
The New Year is an exciting time to reorient our goals and seek to become our healthiest selves. One of the best ways to improve your current health and prevent future disease is quitting smoking. The current number of individuals who smoke in the United States has decreased from 20.9% in 2005 to 12.5% in 2020. This decrease is due to education and treatments to help people stop smoking and prevent the onset of smoking. This is a great improvement and results in healthier individuals, families, and society. If you have been considering quitting smoking these numbers provide encouragement that it really is possible for you to quit.
Despite the decrease in smoking in the United States, one in five deaths can still be attributed to smoking. You might wonder, how does smoking lead to death? Smoking has many adverse side effects. In adults, smoking causes disease like cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, COPD, and diabetes. Furthermore, even secondhand smoke exposure is dangerous and can cause stroke, lung cancer, and heart disease in adults. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at risk of sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, and lung and respiratory infections to name a few.
When you quit smoking there are immediate and long-term benefits for you and your loved ones. There are a number of medical therapies to help you quit smoking. Bupropion (Wellbutrin) and Varenicline (Chantix) are two of the most common. There are also nicotine patches, gum, and lozenges to decrease cravings. Depending on the therapy, treatment usually lasts from 12 weeks up to 1 year. These medicines make quitting less painful and help getting through the toughest part of quitting. In addition, counseling, phone applications, and social support groups are available. People have the most success quitting when a combination of these therapies are used together.
Quitting is hard and many people have tried to quit before. The nicotine in cigarettes as well as the habits associated with smoking prove difficult to overcome. However, we continue to learn more and develop tools that improve people’s ability to quit smoking. If you have tried in the past to quit smoking unsuccessfully, know that quitting is still possible. Your healthcare provider can provide you with more information and together you all can choose a plan of treatment that is best for you.
Mark 2023 by making it you and your loved one’s healthiest year yet. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss quitting smoking.
Dr. Ellerbrock is a resident physician who sees patients of all ages and provides obstetrical services at Lone Star Family Health Center, a non-profit 501©3 Federally Qualified Health Center operating facilities in Conroe, Spring, Willis, Grangerland, and Huntsville, and serving as home to a fully integrated Family Medicine Residency Program to increase the number of Family Medicine physicians for Texas and our community.