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What happens every time you smoke. If this isn’t as good a reminder as to why you need to quit, we’re not sure what would be.

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About 46 million American adults smoke cigarettes, but most smokers are either actively trying to quit or want to quit. Since 1965, more than 49 percent of all adults who have ever smoked have quit smoking.

  • After one year off cigarettes, the excess risk of coronary heart disease caused by smoking is reduced by half. After 15 years of abstinence, the risk is similar to that for people who’ve never smoked.
  • In 5 to 15 years, the risk of stroke for ex-smokers returns to the level of those who’ve never smoked.
  • Male smokers who quit between ages 35 to 39 add an average of 5 years to their lives. Female quitters in this age group add 3 years. Men and women who quit at ages 65 to 69 increase their life expectancy by 1 year.

More than four in five smokers say they want to quit. And each year about 1.3 million smokers do quit. With good smoking cessation programs, 20 to 40 percent of participants are able to quit smoking and stay quit.

About 46 million American adults smoke cigarettes, but most smokers are either actively trying to quit or want to quit. Since 1965, more than 49 percent of all adults who have ever smoked have quit.

According to the 2004 Surgeon General’s Report, The Health Consequences of Smoking, eliminating smoking can greatly reduce the occurrence of coronary heart disease and other forms of cardiovascular disease. Smoking cessation is important in the medical management of many contributors to heart attack. These include atherosclerosis (fatty buildups in arteries), thrombosis (blood clots), coronary artery spasm and cardiac arrhythmia (heart rhythm problems). Quitting smoking also can help manage several other disorders, especially arteriosclerotic peripheral vascular disease (fatty buildups in peripheral arteries) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

According to the 2004 Surgeon General’s Report, tobacco smoking remains the No. 1 cause of preventable disease and death in the United States.

About 23 percent of adult men and 19 percent of adult women smoke. This figure is down considerably from 42 percent in 1965. Changes in smoking habits during the late 1960s, the 1970s and the 1980s have very likely contributed to the drop in cardiovascular deaths that occurred at the same time in the United States.

Why Quit?:

  • After one year off cigarettes, the excess risk of coronary heart disease caused by smoking is reduced by half. After 15 years of abstinence, the risk is similar to that for people who’ve never smoked.
  • In 5 to 15 years, the risk of stroke for ex-smokers returns to the level of those who’ve never smoked.
  • Male smokers who quit between ages 35 to 39 add an average of 5 years to their lives. Female quitters in this age group add 3 years. Men and women who quit at ages 65 to 69 increase their life expectancy by 1 year.

More than four in five smokers say they want to quit. And each year about 1.3 million smokers do quit. With good smoking cessation programs, 20 to 40 percent of participants are able to quit smoking and stay off cigarettes for at least one year.  Smoking cessation programs seem especially helpful for people who smoke more than 25 cigarettes a day.

As if you need to add to the long list of reasons to quit smoking for good, new research from  the journal of Neurology suggests a family history of stroke makes smokers six times more likely to also suffer a stroke. The specific type of aneurysm, called a subarachnoid hemorrhage, is fatal in approximately 35 to 40 percent of cases, and that’s not cool.

 Smoking Cessation

Video: Smoking Cessation

Sounds plenty unappealing, but a nicotine addiction can be as enslaving as heroin. Recent reporting by U.S. News found that going cold turkey—while the most common approach wannabe quitters attempt—is almost always doomed to fail. Smokers who successfully quit tend to recruit multiple resources—and sometimes more than one resource at a time—experts say. From support groups to online smoking cessation help to prescription medications and hypnotism, drawing on a range of options to become a former smoker seems to your best bet.

Occasional smokers are not free of potential damage. A lighter habit—even one that burns through less than a pack a week—can inflict early cardiovascular disease on otherwise healthy young adults.

So, in 2009, we only wish you the best of luck and the happiest of new year’s when you finally end up quitting the nastiest of habits!

Health profoundly improves once a person
stops smoking. In this video Mayo Clinic Physicians provide examples of
healing that occurs once a person stops smoking and the many benefits
to staying …

Bottom line, quitting smoking is the best decision you can make. 


The U.N. General Assembly has ordered Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to put an end to smoking at U.N. headquarters in New York, widely seen as a tobacco safe haven in an otherwise smoke-free metropolis. The assembly told Ban to implement a ban on smoking and on the sale of tobacco products inside the building, Enrique Yeves, spokesman for General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, told reporters on Thursday.

He said the demand came in a nonbinding resolution passed unanimously by the 192 U.N. member states earlier this week. “It is up to the secretariat now … to decide what kind of realistic measures can be taken for this to be implemented,” Yeves told reporters. Word of the General Assembly’s anti-smoking resolution had yet to reach all corners of the 40-story building. In the U.N. Delegates Lounge, a cloud of cigarette smoke hovered over clusters of diplomats and U.N. staff puffing tobacco and sipping coffee. Several of them told Reuters they had not heard of the resolution but added that they doubted Ban would succeed.

Although the United Nations is headquartered in New York, a statewide smoking ban does not apply to the Manhattan compound because it is considered international territory. Ban’s predecessor Kofi Annan tried to ban smoking at the U.N. skyscraper in 2003. But his anti-smoking drive failed as many diplomats and U.N. staff simply ignored the “no smoking” signs that appeared throughout the building.

U.N. officials say that smoking in the 60-year-old skyscraper is discouraged but not officially banned. Other U.N. agencies in New York with offices outside the U.N. secretariat building have successfully banned smoking on their premises. The top envoy from Britain, which co-sponsored the General Assembly resolution, welcomed the new anti-smoking drive. “I think as part of our effort to modernize the U.N., it’s important that the United Nations keeps up with the standards in the rest of the world,” Ambassador John Sawers told Reuters.

“Smoking has been banned in the United Nations in Geneva,” he said. “We look forward to doing the same here in New York.” The key is that the genesis of stopping smoking on the largest of stages and scales needs to begin at the UN and New York and then it needs to trickle down to the smallest of places so that everyone understands how important it is that they stop or quit smoking or realize that they should have never started.

From the department of the obvious comes this advice.

If you smoke and you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, it’s especially important to kick the habit now. The toxic chemicals inhaled when you smoke are easily passed to the unborn baby.

The American Pregnancy Association offers these suggestions to help you stop smoking during pregnancy:

  • Make a list of all of the health benefits of quitting for yourself and your baby.
  • Replace smoking with healthier habits, such as having a snack or a cup of tea with your newspaper, instead of a cigarette.
  • Surround yourself with nonsmokers.
  • Have a friend or family member ready to call when you need support.
  • Ask your doctor for ways to help you quit, including tips on which smoking cessation aids are safe for you and baby.
  • Set a goal date for quitting.

 

Pay-for-Performance Gets Doctors to Push Smoking Cessation

Paying providers of health care to refer patients for help in quitting smoking really makes a difference.

A study, appearing in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, looked at programs that tie physician pay to the quality of care. The key measure was clinics’ referrals of patients in Minnesota to a tobacco quit line. Researchers compared clinics that were paid bonuses for making such referrals — $5,000 for 50 referrals and $25 for each referral beyond the initial 50 — to clinics that didn’t have a financial incentive.

It turned out that the clinics that were in the pay-for-performance program made 1,483 referrals to the quit line, an average of 11.4% of their patients who were smokers. Those that didn’t have the chance to earn extra money made 441 referrals, an average of 4.2% of their smokers.

The researchers, led by Lawrence An of the University of Minnesota, noted some important factors for success beyond cold cash. For one, Minnesota health plans collaborated to make the referral process easy for the clinics. The clinics were also rewarded regardless of what health plan their patients belonged to, meaning that they could make the same recommendation to all smokers.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, which funded the study and payments to the clinics with money from a tobacco settlement, decided along with a number of other Minnesota health plans to continue with the program around smoking cessation, albeit with lower financial awards, a spokeswoman tells us.

 

From the department of the obvious we have the following: Young women who smoke are twice as likely to have a stroke as their nonsmoking peers, according to a new study. And the more cigarettes a woman smokes per day, the bigger her risk.

The study was published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association. The researchers, who studied women ages 15 to 49, found that women who smoke one to 10 cigarettes per day increase their stroke risk 2.2 times. Women who smoke 11 to 20 cigarettes per day increase stroke risk 2.5 times, while those who smoke 21 to 39 per day increase stroke risk more than fourfold. The heaviest smokers — those who smoke 40 or more cigarettes per day — increase their risk 9.1 times.

The study followed 466 women who had suffered their first strokes. A comparison group consisted of 604 women of similar age, race, and ethnicity who had not had a stroke. A detailed smoking history was obtained during face-to-face interviews. Women were classified according to their smoking status as never-smokers, former smokers, or current smokers.

“Our study adds strong evidence that cutting down helps reduce stroke risk, but quitting is unquestionably the best option,” researcher John Cole, MD, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says in a news release.

In 2005, an estimated 21% of American women aged 18-44 were cigarette smokers, according to researchers. The good news is that when women stop smoking, their risk of having a stroke decreases. Stroke risk decreases significantly three years after smoking stops. After five years of being smoke-free, former smokers have the same risk of stroke as never-smokers. And the earlier that smokers quit, the better. People who quit smoking prior to age 35 can have the same life expectancy as those who have never smoked.

The researchers point out that media campaigns and high prices for tobacco products help curb smoking rates among young people. “Our study supports the need to target smoking as a preventable and modifiable risk factor for cerebrovascular disease in young women,” they write.

 

Think you know what’s up when it comes to cigarette smoking and its effects? Better think again!

1. Myth: Nicotine causes cancer.

Fact: Nicotine is not a carcinogen. However, there are 4,000 known chemicals in cigarettes, and more than 60 of them are carcinogens.

2. Myth: Smoking is just a bad habit that you can stop at any time.

Fact: There is a habit component to smoking, but there are also biological changes to the brain that create the addiction.

Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, which occur naturally in the brain, are activated when nicotine is consumed. The activation period is followed by a desensitized state in which the receptors become unresponsive. As more nicotine is consumed, and the number of unresponsive receptors increases, the smoker experiences less pleasure from each cigarette. This makes it necessary to increase the number of cigarettes smoked to achieve the desired level of pleasure.

3. Myth: Low nicotine cigarettes are safer.

Fact: The blend of tobacco in a low nicotine cigarette is exactly the same as in a regular cigarette. The reason cigarette companies can call them “low” has to do with the way nicotine levels are tested.

As the regulator of cigarettes, the Federal Trade Commission tests for nicotine and tar levels with machines that draw air through a cigarette in two-second puffs, repeated once per minute, until the cigarette is burned to the filter. The smoke that is generated in this manner tests low in nicotine.

However, this test doesn’t approximate the way people really smoke. Smokers will compensate for the lower yield of nicotine by puffing more, or taking longer drags. Consequently, the smoker will actually inhale the same or more nicotine and tar, even though it is considered a low-nicotine cigarette.

Another reason the machine tests are considered inaccurate is cigarette manufacturers put ventilation holes in the filters. These holes allow more air to be drawn in, which dilutes the smoke going into the machine, making it seem as though the cigarette being tested contains less tar and nicotine. But when people actually smoke these cigarettes, their fingers generally cover the holes in the filters.

4. Myth: Medicinal nicotine found in nicotine patches and nicotine gum is just as addictive as smoking.

Fact: The delivery system used to bring nicotine to the brain is what determines the level of addictiveness. Medicinal nicotine is released slowly through the venous system. The brain receives only small quantities, reducing the potential for addiction.

Inhaling brings nicotine to the brain extremely fast, which is why it is so addictive.

“Inhaling gets nicotine to the brain within five heartbeats,” Hurt said.

5. Myth: A smoker who tries to quit without assistance can maintain abstinence over the long term.

Fact: Chances of long-term abstinence for smokers who try to go it alone are less than 5 percent. With assistance, the smoker’s chance of staying away from cigarettes increases to 30 to 35 percent.

 

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