Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart deserves credit for going public with his quest to quit smoking. By shining a spotlight on his challenge, he is helping to spread the word about the reasons and best methods to battle a very formidable addiction.
Most people who attempt to quit fail, but the reasons to keep trying are compelling: longevity, a better quality of life and considerable savings.
People don’t smoke as much as they used to, but it remains the leading cause of preventable deaths worldwide. For every person who dies prematurely because of smoking, 30 cope with a tobacco-induced diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, emphysema and bronchitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Everyone knows somebody whose life has been cut short. For the author of this editorial, it was his mother, who died from emphysema.
As for the economic impact, the CDC reports that it’s about $170 billion in direct medical care for adults, and about $156 billion in lost productivity. Statistics show that low-income Americans are more likely to be smokers, precisely the people least able to afford cigarettes.
Stuckart took up the challenge in conjunction with the Spokane Regional Health District’s Stop Smoking Challenge, which encourages people to quit for a short period of time or for good by Nov. 16. That date marks the annual Great American Smokeout run by the American Cancer Society.
He issued challenges to other public leaders to do the same. State Rep. Timm Ormsby says he’ll give it a try. City Councilman Mike Fagan says he will consider it.
One of the smoking cessation tips is to let people know you’re making the effort so they can offer encouragement. Plus, it builds a level of accountability, because the quitter knows people are watching.
One of the surprises to those trying to quit is all of the help that is available. Insurance may cover nicotine patches, gum, lozenges and other medications that control cravings. The benefit to insurance companies is that they avoid paying for tobacco-related diseases.
The Washington Department of Health’s website offers other tips to help those trying to quit. For instance, the urge to smoke is intermittent, lasting only about three to five minutes each time, but it is intense. Suggested diversions are to exercise, drink water, play a game, listen to music or call or text a friend.
To find group support, join @CDCTobaccoFree on Twitter and Facebook. And, yes, there’s an app for this, too. The SmartQuit App can be found at the DOH website.
People who successfully quit reap lifetime rewards, but there are also immediate benefits. Blood pressure lowers, according to WebMD, and the smell goes away, as long as you thoroughly clean your home and car. Plus, no more stepping outside in bone-chilling temperatures to light up.
We encourage people to join the challenge. Quit for a day. Then try a week. Avail yourself of all the tools that have proven to help battle this deadly, debilitating addiction.
You’ll find that many people truly care and are ready to rally to your side.