January 13, 2014 in City

The Rock Doc: Carrots, sticks to help you kick smoking

E. Kirsten Peters
 

Thirty years ago, I was a light smoker. After several failed attempts to quit, I was able, for some reason, to go cold turkey and finally be done with tobacco.

Maybe I got off easy. One thing is for sure: I don’t judge anyone who still smokes, because I know some strong-willed people who have yet to quit. But while the new year is still in its infancy, perhaps it’s worth taking a look at the medical facts to see how much good you can do yourself by quitting now. And there’s some research about a new product that might help you quit once and for all.

The BeTobaccoFree.gov website says that when you stop smoking, you can look forward to all of the following:

• Your blood pressure and heart rate will drop in 20 minutes.

• The carbon monoxide levels in your blood will become normal within 12 hours.

• Your lung function and your circulation will improve at three months.

• Your risk of coronary heart disease will drop by 50 percent after one year.

• Your risk of cancer of the throat and mouth will drop by 50 percent after five years.

• Your risk of dying from lung cancer will drop by 50 percent after 10 years.

• You’ll have the same risk of coronary heart disease as if you’d never smoked after 15 years.

You can use those facts as the “carrots” to arm yourself with the will to quit. If you want some “sticks” to throw in the mix, here are a couple from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

• Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death.

• Smokers die 10 years earlier than people who don’t smoke.

There are more and more approaches that might help you along your journey to freedom from cigarettes. There are pills, patches and gum – all of which can help you get through the roughest times without lighting up. And there’s a new device on the scene, too, namely the electronic “e-cigarette.” The device creates a vapor laced with nicotine. While some fear the e-cigarette may hook a new generation, the good news is that others have found it useful in the battle to quit nicotine altogether.

According to a BBC news report, a study published in the journal Lancet reported that after six months of use, 57 percent of e-cigarette users had cut the number of cigarettes smoked each day in half, compared with only 41 percent of those in the study using patches.

Check out e-cigarettes if they sound interesting and you think they could help you quit. The year is young, and you have a lot to live for.

Dr. E. Kirsten Peters, a native of the rural Northwest, was trained as a geologist at Princeton and Harvard universities. This column is a service of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University.


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