Smoking Cessation

Smoking cessation programs help smokers quit smoking. This article contains statistics on smoking and smoking cessation, information on the health benefits of smoking cessation, and tips on participating in smoking cessation programs and how to quit smoking.

The United States, there are right around 46 million adults smoking cigarettes. According to the American Heart Association, most smokers actually want to quit. Indeed, since 1965, 49% of adults who have ever smoked have actually quit. Millions more want to quit (four out of five smokers wish they could quit), but have not been able to overcome the addiction. About 1.3 million smokers quit each year. However, even with the best smoking cessation programs, only 20% to 40% of these quitters are able to stay off cigarettes for more than one year.

Health benefits of smoking cessation

There are many reasons that smokers want to quit. The smell that accompanies smokers, as well as other cosmetic issues (yellow teeth, e.g.), are reasons that some smokers quit. Others recognize the health problems that smoking can cause for themselves and for others. Many of the most successful quitters do so in an effort to make a healthier environment for their children.

But smoking cessation does more than benefit those who have breathing in second hand smoke. Smokers themselves can reap a number of health benefits when they quit smoking. The American Heart Association reports that some of the benefits of smoking cessation include:

  • One year after quitting cigarettes, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half. The risk of coronary heart disease related to smoking ends up similar to those who have never smoked when a quitter has been smoke free for 15 years.
  • Those who quit smoking can add more years to their lives. For men between the ages of 35 and 39, smoking cessation adds nearly five years to their lives. For women in that age group, the number of years of extended life is three.
  • It takes between five and 15 years for a quitter’s risk of stroke to be reduced back to the level of someone who has never smoked.

Participating in smoking cessation programs

As with overcoming any addiction, quitters can find more success if they join a program that includes a support system and a program to help them quit smoking. Smoking cessation programs have evolved over the years to include a combination of treatments and therapies to help smokers quit. Some of the most successful smoking cessation regimens include the following three elements:

  1. Physician advice and follow up by that physician: Hearing from a physician about the health consequences of smoking, as well as receiving support and help from a doctor as a smoker attempts to quit, can be helpful. It lets a smoker track his or her progress toward quitting and provides a structure of accountability.
  2. Behavior modification: This is a type of treatment that attempts to help the smoker replace the undesirable habit of smoking with things that are less damaging to the health. This might include going for a walk, or eating a stick of gum when the urge to smoke arrives. The idea is to distract the smoker, and then slowly change the smoker’s behavior with new habits.
  3. Nicotine treatment: This addresses the physical addiction to nicotine. Usually, a patch is worn or gum is chewed. The patch contains progressively smaller amounts of nicotine so that the body eventually becomes used to not having it. The nicotine gum is used to satisfy the nicotine craving without the smoking. The goal is to reduce the amount of nicotine by eventually replacing the gum.

Combining these three elements can help increase the effectiveness of smoking cessation programs. It takes into account the various aspects of the addiction, comprising the physical and the psychological. It also usually helps when a smoker has supportive family members and friends who can provide encouragement to the potential quitter.

Smoking cessation can be quite difficult. However, it is possible. But it requires a great deal of work and willpower. And, if the smoker has a good support system and joins a program, the chances of success when it comes to quitting cigarettes increases.

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