Health Matters: Holding Yourself Accountable to Quit Smoking

The American Cancer Society says smoking cigarettes shortens lives by over 10 years.

You see tobacco products everywhere.

They’re available at the gas station and where you grocery shop.

Experts say that’s a big reason why it may be hard to kick the habit.

“Nicotine is a drug and nicotine is a very addictive drug,” said Cheri Thomson, who is a Respiratory Therapist and a Specialist in Tobacco Cessation with Essentia Health.

Even just one cigarette is harmful.

“It’s been shown by the surgeon general that there’s not level of safe smoke exposure,” she said.

People often associate cancer with the cause and affect of smoking, but there are others you may overlook.

“Infertility, macular degeneration…we see a lot of problems with our diabetic patients that smoke with neuropathy and vascular disease,” said Thomson.

But the good news is if you are looking to quit, there are options.

“Touch base with your primary care physician,” encouraged Tomson. “Let them know that you want to quit smoking. Reach out for assistance whether it’s the one on one or the state quitline.”

She says having someone hold you accountable will increase your chances of quitting successfully.

At Essentia, physicians use a carbon monoxide reader.

The value changes immediately based on the cigarettes you’ve smoked.

“Once our patients see that number and see whether if it’s a high number or a lower number it really motivates them to get that number to go down to that of a non-smoker,” explained Thomson.

It’s recommended to set a quit date within the 30 days you make the decision to stop smoking.

“There is preparation involved,” said Thomson. “Whether it’s getting medication, making your home smoke free or letting your support people know that you’re going to quit smoking.”

Making a plan to reach your goals is important and a health care provider can help you figure out what works for you.

“There are seven FDA approved medications for cessation,” said Thomson. “Those products have to be used right and be dosed right to be effective.”

Essentia Health will be holding their “Great American Smoke Out” event on November 17th in Duluth.

Specialists will be available to talk about different ways to quit.

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