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It's Okay to Be a Quitter

November 16, 2017
Tobacco use negatively affects every system in your body. We've all learned to associate smoking with lung cancer and emphysema, but it causes many more diseases. Smoking can directly lead to heart disease and stroke along with asthma, hypertension and cancer in any part of your body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking causes approximately 1 in 5 deaths every year and it's the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States.

It’s no secret that quitting smoking is not an easy task for most people. When you decide it's time for you to quit, know that there will be challenges, but the benefits of quitting far outweigh the costs. Here are some tips to help get you started:
  • Know your personal motivations for quitting. Is it to improve your health? Is it to reduce the risk in your family of second hand smoke from you? Remind yourself of these reasons when you are having a difficult day.
  • Create specific, reasonable goals and reward yourself when you meet them (but not by taking an extra smoke!)
  • Throw away things that make it easier to smoke. Get rid of:
    • Ashtrays
    • Lighters
    • Leftover cigarettes
  • Try to surround yourself with nonsmokers and come up with alternative ways to use the time and money you would have spent smoking. The cost of smoking a pack each day can exceed $2,300 per year (that could pay for a vacation, more holiday gifts for loved ones, or a donation to your favorite charity).
  • Build up a support system of people to encourage you and to keep you accountable
Even if you quit smoking decades ago, tobacco use can still be impacting your health. Problems from chronic lung disease – persistent cough, shortness of breath, and increased susceptibility to bronchitis and pneumonia – may persist or worsen over time, even after stopping smoking. But other smoking-related diseases, particularly cancer, may not have early warning signs, allowing the disease to progress to an advanced stage before symptoms occur. The earlier you stop smoking, the less your risk of severe damage, and the greater the potential for reducing the risk of serious illness. Your primary care provider may help you quit smoking, and also may detect or prevent these smoking-related diseases.

It's important to know that there is no safe amount of smoking and there is no substitute for quitting. GBMC’s primary care practices have behavioral health and substance use resources available to help you with quitting and there are many programs throughout the community such as MDQuit and the Maryland Tobacco Quitline. For more information about GBMC's primary care providers, visit www.mygbmcdoctor.com.
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