Breathe Better in 2013

I know smokers hear a mouthful from us non-smokers all the time, between the dirty looks, the coughing as we walk by, the comments that people feel the need to shout out….I get it, it’s annoying, but your habit of smoking, affects us non-smokers! We are exposed to the carcinogens that you are burning, inhaling, and then exhaling into airspace that we are also using. It seems trite, I totally get that, but you are not only exposing me as an adult, but children, animals, and other innocent people who may already have some health issues (think about a child with asthma; they should be able to walk down the street without having an increased risk of an asthma attack because someone is smoking near them).  But it’s a new year, and a great time to make a commitment to yourself and to better health! If you won’t quit for anyone else, quit for you!

Why should I quit? 

-443,000 people die a year from smoking related deaths, which is more deaths than from suicide, alcohol, illegal drugs, motor vehicle accidents, and murders combined!!!

– It increases your risk of lung cancer by 23 times (versus non-smokers)

– Heart disease and stroke risk increases by 2 to 4 times

– Increases you risk for other cancers: oral, larynx, skin, gums, cervix, bladder, kidneys, pancreas, stomach, esophagus….among others

– And specifically for women, smoking can cause: low weight births, stillborn births, infertility, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

AND, in case no one else has noticed, tobacco products are EXPENSIVE!!  I couldn’t afford to smoke a pack or more a day.










What are the immediate benefits of quitting?

Within 12 hours of quitting, your blood oxygen levels increase back to a “normal” (pre-smoking) baseline and your carbon monoxide levels drop down to normal.

In 24 hours your chemical withdrawal symptoms will start (and will peak in 72 hours.)

Within 48 hours your nerves that have been damaged will reverse, and your sense of smell and taste will start to return.

Within 2 weeks your anxiety levels reduce (anxiety will be higher right after you quit in a response to stopping nicotine) and your blood circulation has restored to your gums and teeth.

At around 8 weeks, your risk of heart attack/disease starts to decrease significantly, and your lungs start to work better and more efficiently.

After 1 year of quitting, your risk of heart attack and stroke are at around 1/2 the risk of a smoker, and when you reach that 5 year milestone your risks are that of a non-smoker!!

The effects reverse, and your body starts feeling better so quickly after you quit, you just have to get through the cravings!

How do I quit?

Quit with a friend/buddy/significant other: it makes it easier if you keep each other in check. Or get support from help groups (1-800-QUIT-NOW, for teens Smokefree Teens, and women Smokefree Women) that can coach you through cravings, or talk to you about what you might be feeling every time you reach for that lighter and that pack of smokes.

Use nicotine replacement gum, inhalers, patches, etc and slowly wean yourself off of the nicotine so you just have to deal with changing your behavioral patterns, not the physical chemical cravings. There are also some medications and other treatments your Healthcare Practitioner (HCP) can prescribe for you, but there are quite a few side effects so you should be under the care of an HCP if you choose to take that route.

Make some lifestyle changes (just like when you are trying to lose weight) that you can stick with.  If you normally smoke when you drive to work, change routes. If you light up after dinner, go for a walk, get up and do something active that will change your “smokers routine”.  If you smoke when you hang out with certain people, don’t hang out with them for a while. I am NOT saying that it is easy, but it is hard work that you are putting in to make yourself healthier, and to live a life free of disease.  Life is hard enough, why add medical issues that you don’t need/want to deal with? And, again….the cost just blows my mind; wouldn’t you rather buy something cool that you’ve coveted with the money you save from not smoking??

Talk to your HCP, get a baseline physical, and then a year after your successful cessation of tobacco use, and you will see a HUGE difference in your health, all for the positive.

Yours in Good Health



Smokeless Tobacco: Not only gross….it’s a killer!

Last weekend there was a guy dipping (AKA using chewing tobacco), and I was completely horrified.  Me, being me, of course felt the need to chastise this poor man for chewing tobacco, spitting all over the ground, and it was not the right time or place for “thoughtful” education.  So, it was a swing and a miss as far as a PSA goes, but I thought this forum might be a little more appropriate because there is more to the dangers of tobacco than just smoking it.

What is smokeless tobacco? 

Usually that means chewing tobacco (AKA dip, chaw, snuff, chew, and plug).  Chewing tobacco is usually shredded tobacco leaves (chunkier) whereas snuff is a finer tobacco that is in almost little teabags; with both, people put the tobacco between their gum and lip/cheek, swirl around their saliva, mixed with the tobacco then spit it out. Sounds appetizing, right? The nicotine that is present in the tobacco, mixes with your saliva, and enters your blood stream through the capillaries (the small blood vessels) in your oral mucosa (mouth tissues).  So, you get the buzz from the nicotine, just like smoking, and maybe even stronger, then you also get that addiction from the nicotine.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates around 14 million users in the US alone….that is a LOT of dipping going on, and I had no idea how wide-spread the problem is, because it is mostly used by adolescents and teens under the age of 20.

What are the dangers?

Well there are immediate things that occur:

-yellowing of the teeth

-gingivitis (gum disease)

-cavities (the acidity creates holes in your teeth)

-bad breath due to a build up of bacteria and tobacco

-canker sores (almost all dip users get them continuously because of the irritation to your oral tissues)

And with chronic use:

-bleeding lips and gums (from irritation)

-receding gum lines (which leads to tooth decay and teeth falling out)

-cancer (oral/throat/esophageal/lips/gums/tongue/cheeks…and pancreatic and kidney cancer rates increase too!)

-heart disease: dip increases your heart rate and blood pressure and puts a strain on your heart increasing your risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

What should I do?

QUIT!!!! Chewing tobacco is bad news.  It’s not better for you just because you don’t inhale it, it may actually even be worse for you. Chewing tobacco has 30 different cancer causing agents in it…and you just sit there sucking on it; there is nothing else that people KNOW causes cancer and sit there and suck on without a care in the world.  Your risk of cancer is just as high, and it is just SO gross looking.  You can try to quit with nicotine patches or gums (like quitting cigarettes), talk to your HCP and see what they suggest, and there are tons of support lines to help if you are having trouble quitting: 1-800-QUIT-NOW is a free tobacco cessation line, funded by the government to help people quit smoking.  You can learn new tips, talk to a therapist, and find help near you.  You CAN quit.  You NEED to quit.  It’s just a matter of freeing yourself from the addiction of nicotine.  You can do it.  I know it!

Yours in Good Health