Free tobacco cessation support group
- Family Resource Center - Greeley Colorado
Meeting Every Tuesday - 6:30-7:30
1403 2nd Street
970-304-6470 Extension: 2138
Smoking is the largest cause of preventable death in the country. More than 5,000 americans start smoking cigarettes each day. And that's despite the fact that they know the damaging effects it has on the human body. One in five deaths in the United States is related to tobacco use. And every ten seconds, someone dies from a disease related to smoking.
Effects on the body:
When you smoke, your pulse quickens, causing your heart to beat an extra 10-25 times per minute... or as many as 36,000 additional times a day. This forces the heart to work harder and can contribute to the risk of a heart attack. Cigarette smoking is directly responsible for at least 20% of all deaths from heart disease; it lowers “good” cholesterol levels, causes deterioration of elastic properties in the aorta and increases the risk for blood clots.
Cigarette smoke attacks the lungs’ natural defenses and can completely paralyze the natural cleansing process. Excess mucus in the lungs will make you more susceptible to colds, flu, bronchitis and other respiratory infections. Continued exposure can lead to lung cancer and lung diseases, including pneumonia and emphysema.
Lung cancer is just one of the serious health risks caused by smoking. Smokers and chewers are also susceptible to cancers of the larynx, mouth, esophagus, bladder, pancreas, kidney and stomach.
Smokers have a much higher risk of developing two major sight-threatening conditions. Macular degeneration can occur when the macula, the central part of the retina at the back of your eye, becomes scarred, robbing the person of central vision. Research has shown that smokers are about 3 times more likely to develop cataracts, a gradual thickening that develops in the lens of the eye. Smoke can also cause serious irritation for those who wear soft contact lenses.
Nose & Throat
Irritating gases in cigarette smoke, such as formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and others, can cause serious irritation to the sensitive membranes in the nose and throat. The results: a runny nose and the proverbial smoker’s cough. Continued exposure can produce abnormal thickening in the throat lining, a condition, when accompanied with cellular changes, that has been linked to throat cancer.
Stained yellow teeth, bad breath and an acute loss in your sense of taste are just some of the less serious consequences of smoking. Smoking as well as the use of spit tobacco or “chew” can also contribute to cancer of the lips, gums and throat.
Smoker’s have what is called a “smoker’s face.” Characterized by a grayish appearance of the skin and deep lines around the corners of the eyes and mouth, smoker’s face is caused by a lack of oxygen to the skin. These conditions occur because smoking constricts the blood vessels in the skin, making it more susceptible to wrinkling.
Male Reproductive System
The negative effects of smoking on the blood vessels leading to the male reproductive organs may mean men can experience erectile dysfunction or even impotency. Smoking can also affect fertility by decreasing sperm count and mobility.
Female Reproductive System
Smoking can result in fewer reproductive years and a sharp decline in fertility for women. Female smokers are three times more likely to be infertile and reach menopause one and three-quarter years earlier than nonsmokers.
Research is finding a connection between the risk of developing breast cancer and smoking.
Smokers have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition that involves bone thinning. The loss of bone tissue, more prevalent among women, can result in an increase of bone fractures.
The carbon monoxide inhaled with each drag on a cigarette can stay in the bloodstream for up to six hours. Once in the bloodstream, it begins attacking the red blood cells, virtually replacing the oxygen your body needs to function. The process means less oxygen reaches the brain and other vital organs.
Smokers are at greater risk of developing peptic ulcers, Crohn’s disease and gallstones and can experience chronic heartburn. Smoking also affects the way the liver operates, particularly in terms of how it processes alcohol.
Smoking or chewing often quickly becomes a deeply-rooted habit for many daily users. You smoke/chew when you're tired, when you're anxious, when you're drinking, when you're driving, when you're happy, sad, stressed, nervous, or celebrating. When smoking becomes linked with several daily occurrences, it becomes a habit as much as it is an addiction to nicotine. Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco become a crutch. You may feel naked without it. You'll suddenly alter your day in order to get it. Using tobacco can seriously alter your daily routine & lifestyle. Do you sometimes wish you didn't have to worry about having cigarettes or smokeless tobacco?
Image of a Smoker/Chewer
Tobacco users may deter relationships due to their potential partner's lack of tobacco use. Smoking also can cause premature aging, yellowing of the teeth, increased coughing, sickness, & the smell of smoke that lingers on the skin, in the hair, and on clothes. How do you want to be identified? As a smoker or a non-smoker?
Most people know the damaging effects that second hand smoke can have on others. But did you think about the influence you have on children, peers, & co-workers? May people choose to quit because they want to be a good role model for their children, siblings, nieces, nephews, parents, and co-workers. Is your influence & reputation related to smoking/chewing important to you?
It's certainly not getting any cheaper to use tobacco. With the rising cost due to taxes on tobacco products — it may be important to you to look at how much you're spending on cigarettes or snuff. Take a look at what you spend daily, weekly, & monthly on tobacco products. In addition to these tangible costs, there are often health consequences which may add to health care costs — increased sickness & dental complications alone can really add up. Can you afford to smoke or chew? Check out the smoking calculator to find out how much tobacco is costing you
Tips for Quitting & Staying Quit
While quitting tobacco can seem like a daunting thing, everyday people successfully quit. Nicotine is highly addictive; however, with a variety of tools and support you can make quitting a reality for you.
Setting a Quit Date and Making a Quit Plan
Once a person has decided to quit, it’s time to pick the all-important Quit Date. Make sure it’s pretty soon — like maybe in the next month. Choosing one too far in the future will make it easier to rationalize a way out of it. But there also needs to be enough time to get prepared. Then it’s time to come up with a solid plan. Here are some steps to help you get prepared.
- Pick the date and mark it on a calendar.
- Tell friends and family of the quit date and ask for their support.
- Stock up on sugarless gum, cinnamon sticks, toothpicks, carrot sticks and hard candy.
- Decide on a plan. What options does the Health & Counseling Center offer for cessation? Are there community resources or on-line support services that best match your personal needs?
- Is nicotine replacement therapy (i.e., the patch or gum) or other medications the way to go? Medications have been proven to increase the success of quitting. Investigate your options and decide what will work best for you. If you decide on medication, you may need to start using it before your quit date.
- Attending a smoking cessation class or calling a quit line also can help you to stay smoke-free.
- Set up a support system. Tell others of your plan and ask for their support. Ask a friend to quit with you. You can talk with a friend who has successfully quit and is willing to help.
- Get rid of all cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays, etc.
- Identify your triggers, the things that tempt you to smoke. Think about the times or rituals during the day when you normally smoke, such as with a cup of coffee in the morning, between classes, while studying or at the bar. Figure out what you will do instead of smoking, such as skipping the coffee, going for a walk, chomping on carrot sticks or lollipops and even avoiding the bar. These temptations will become less and less strong the longer you are smoke-free.
- If weight gain is a concern, know that exercise can decrease your chances of gaining weight while you quit and can make quitting easier.
What to Do When the Quit Day Comes
- Do not smoke. Stop smoking the night before and when you wake up the next morning, you will have an 8-hour head start to being smoke-free!
- Keep active — try walking, exercising or doing other activities or hobbies.
- Drink lots of water and juices.
- Start nicotine replacement therapy (if chosen).
- Continue attending a smoking cessation class, following a self-help plan and using computer resources. Call your support system or the Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) when you’re tempted.
- Avoid high-risk situations where the urge to smoke is strong. Sit in non-smoking sections when you go out to eat or frequent smoke-free establishments.
- Reduce or avoid alcohol and caffeine. Why? Alcohol clouds judgment and can make it easier to slip and smoke. Plus, alcohol may be linked to smoking for some people and it’s important to break this connection.
- Use the four “A’s”
- Avoid. Certain people and places can tempt you to smoke. Stay away for now. Later on, you’ll be able to cope.
- Alter. Switch to soft drinks or water instead of coffee or alcohol. Take a different route to school or work. Take a walk when you used to take a smoke break!
- Alternatives. Use oral substitutions like sugarless gum, hard candy or sunflower seeds.
- Activities. Exercise or hobbies that keep your hands busy (video games, needlework, woodworking, etc.) can help distract the urge to smoke.
Dealing with Withdrawal
Everybody knows that withdrawal comes with the territory of quitting but that doesn’t make it any easier. It can be hard and even frustrating for the person quitting to deal with withdrawal and for those around the person. But understanding what’s going on, physically and psychologically, can help and can assist you in helping a friend quit.
- When smokers quit, they begin to go through some changes, some physical, some emotional. The physical symptoms, while annoying and difficult, are not life threatening. Nicotine replacement products such as the patch or gum can help reduce many of these physical symptoms. For most smokers, the bigger challenge is the psychological part of quitting.
- This psychological part of smoking is really hard to beat because smoking becomes linked to so many things — things like waking up in the morning, eating, reading, watching TV, drinking coffee, etc. It’s like a ritual. Your body becomes used to having a cigarette with certain activities and will miss this link when you first become smoke-free.
- It will take time to “un-link” smoking from these activities. Unfortunately, the patch or gum can’t relieve the psychological need to smoke. That’s why it’s so important for the smoker to create a plan to deal with situations that trigger their urge to smoke. Smokers can also ask friends and family for support with simple things like walking around the building before class instead of having a cigarette.
If and when a smoker goes through withdrawal, they need to keep this in mind. Even though they may not act like themselves, and they may feel rotten, these feelings will pass. After 30 days or so, and after they’ve quit smoking, all this will be behind them. In the meantime, here are some of the withdrawal symptoms smokers may experience and what they can do about them.
- Craving. This is the body’s physical addiction saying, “I need nicotine now!” Each craving will last for only a couple of minutes and will eventually stop happening altogether in about seven days. Smokers should use nicotine replacement products to help reduce cravings. If the smoker still feels the urge, they can admit out loud to themselves or someone else that they are having a craving. Then they should count to one hundred and let the feeling pass — and it will, usually within a couple minutes.
- Difficulty Concentrating. “Help, I quit smoking and I can’t concentrate!” Some people say nicotine helps focus their attention. When they quit smoking, the increased blood flow and oxygen can lead to a feeling of mental fogginess. If this happens, they should try making lists and daily schedules to keep organized, then set aside some total relaxation time when they don’t have to concentrate on anything!
- Fatigue/Sleeping Problems. Trouble sleeping and fatigue are common symptoms of withdrawal. Because nicotine increases one’s metabolism to an abnormally high rate, when people stop smoking their metabolism drops back to normal, making them feel like their energy level has dropped. So what can they do? They need to get their body used to the new metabolic rate by getting plenty of sleep, whenever possible. Although sleep patterns may be interrupted at first, this is normal and temporary.
- Irritability. If you have snapped at someone or had a new non-smoker snap at you, you know what we are talking about. Irritability is caused by the body trying to adjust to the sudden disappearance of all those chemicals it’s been used to. The best way to handle this is for smokers to simply be honest with those around them that they are trying to quit and they do not feel like themselves.
Staying Quit (Maintenance)
Staying quit is the final, and most important, stage of the process. Many of the same methods can be used to stay quit as were used to help get through withdrawal. A smoker should think ahead to those times when they may feel the urge to smoke and plan on how they will use alternatives and activities to deal with it.
Here are some things a smoker can do if they feel tempted to start smoking again:
- Wait: Cravings are natural and they will pass. Don’t think about not being able to smoke for the rest your life, think about not smoking for the next 10 minutes.
- Remember the reasons for wanting to quit: You only have to go through this once and then you’ll be a non-smoker for the rest of your life.
- Seek support: Call someone. Tell them you are thinking about smoking and ask them to help you through it. Talk to friends who have successfully quit or friends quitting with you.
- Replace the craving with something healthy: Drink water, make yourself a snack, take a walk, exercise, see a movie. Do something to pass the time.
- Reduce stress: Is something happening in your life that is causing stress? Try to let it go, talk to a counselor, take a shower, go work out, schedule a massage... do whatever it takes to de-stress!
What Happens When You Quit?
Many smokers have heard the negative effects of smoking and know that quitting can lower chances of getting related cancers. However, the benefits of quitting begin with the first 20 minutes and can continue as long as one stays quit.
After smoking the last cigarette:
- Blood pressure and pulse drop to normal body temperature of hands and feet increases to normal.
- Carbon monoxide levels in blood drop to normal oxygen levels in blood increase to normal.
- Chance of heart attack decreases.
- Nerve endings start to re-grow, smell and taste abilities are enhanced.
2 Weeks to 3 Months
- Circulation improves, walking becomes easier and lung function increases by up to 30%.
1 to 9 Months
- Coughing, fatigue, shortness of breath and sinus congestion decrease, cilia re-grow in lungs, increasing the lungs' ability to clean itself, handle mucus and reduce infection.
- Excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker.
- Lung cancer death rate decreases by almost half, for average (1 pack a day) former smoker. Stroke risk reduced to that of a non-smoker. Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus is half that of a smoker.
- Lung cancer death is similar to that of a non-smoker. Pre cancerous cells are replaced. Risk of cancer of mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, cervix and pancreas decreases.
- Risk of coronary heat disease is that of a non-smoker.
- Call the Colorado Quit Line (800-QUIT-NOW) or visit. Get registered and receive eight weeks of nicotine replacement therapies (patch or gum).
- Visit Fixnixer.com to receive mobile quit information and customized motivational text messages to help you during your quit attempt.
- American Cancer Society
Resources and information for adults
- Nicotine Anonymous
12-steps adapted from Alcoholic-Anonymous to help you to a nicotine-free life
- Quit Doing It
Resources and information for students
Take it one step at a time
- Set a quitting date and stick to it. Most smokers who want to quit say, "I'll quit tomorrow." But for most, tomorrow never comes.
- Don't quit during stressful times. When you have stress, you feel irritable and not smoking may make that worse.
- Tell important people that you want to quit. When they are aware of your intentions to quit, they can keep you on track with your plan.
- Ask your doctor for help. Your doctor can prescribe medicines to make the process a little easier.
- Be active. Keeping yourself busy is a great way to forget about smoking. If possible, make it part of interacting with friends by scheduling times for rollerblading, gardening, etc. Enjoying the company of others can help you forget about smoking.
- Satisfy your oral cravings. Some people find that keeping bubble gum, hard candy or suckers handy satisfies their need to have something in their mouth in place of cigarettes.
- Resist cravings using the 4 D's: Delay, Deep breath, Drink water, Do something else.
- Use the buddy system. Find another person who wants to quit smoking and do it together. Having someone else to talk to who can understand your frustrations or problems can make the process easier.
- Quitting is part of a new healthier lifestyle. Try to eat healthier foods and get more exercise, even if it's just taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or walking to the store.
- Eliminate drinking alcohol. If you smoke when you drink or have started smoking again after a night of drinking - put down the booze with the smokes. At least until you feel confident in your quit attempt.
- Reward yourself with the money you save. Do you know how much you spend on cigarettes? Set aside the money you would spend and watch the pile grow. Reward yourself with a trip or celebrate being a former smoker.
- Remind yourself why. Write down your own personal reasons to quit and refer to them if you ever feel tempted to light up.