It is common knowledge that smoking contributes
to respiratory problems, cancer, and heart and lung disease. Still, more people
smoke in Kentucky than in any other state.
Smoking cigarettes is not only an unhealthy addiction
but also an expensive healthcare problem. Kentucky leads the nation in percentage of residents exposed to smoking at home.
As many as three out of four children report regular exposure to secondhand
smoke. Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke are 25 to 30 percent more likely
to develop heart disease and lung cancer than those not exposed.
"Direct medical expenditures for Kentucky from smoking equaled a total
of $1.17 billion in 1998. Smoking-attributable productivity costs in 1999 were
$1.84 billion," says Ellen Hahn, D.N.S., R.N, associate professor, UK College
The good news
Smoking cessation significantly affects these outcomes.
But quitting smoking is not easy. A study by the UK College of Nursing faculty
members found that almost one out of every three Kentucky adults smokes and
50 percent have made at least one unsuccessful attempt to quit.
"The majority of smokers want to quit, but it
is important for people to understand the addictive nature of cigarettes. The
nicotine in tobacco is addictive and the body responds when it doesn't have
it," says Ruth Staten, Ph.D., R.N., associate professor, UK College of
Nursing. "The physiological symptoms of withdrawal are enough to make people
want to smoke again." Smokers may feel edgy, hungry, and tired, and they
may gain weight or have a cough for a brief time after quitting as their bodies
undergo a healing process.
How to begin
Most people need help to quit. Successful attempts
most often combine medication, such as nicotine replacement therapy, with coping
strategies. These strategies can include individual or group therapy or reading
smoking cessation literature. "If you try to quit on your own and are not
successful, try picking up a nicotine replacement product," Staten says.
"The packages also contain information on smoking cessation. If you still
struggle with quitting, try joining a group program."
Education is vital in successful smoking cessation. Expecting cravings and recognizing
situations that trigger the desire to smoke help smokers become nonsmokers.
To aid in smoking cessation, brush your teeth frequently,
snack on crunchy fruits and vegetables, or chew sugarless gum when the urge
to light up strikes. To relieve tension, try taking a shower or deep breaths.
The time to quit smoking is now.
The Kentucky Cancer Program offers smoking cessation
methods that utilize nicotine replacement drugs and support sessions. For more
Eastern Kentucky call (859) 442-3525
Western Kentucky call (502) 852-6318
Or go online at www2.kcr.uky.edu/kcp/cooperclayton.htm.