Thursday, February 02, 2012
Posted by: Sharrel Carlton, MD
Did you know that private health insurance plans in Oregon must cover at least $500 worth in basic FDA-approved smoking cessation treatments, programs and services? There has never been a better time to make a plan to quit smoking and to be able to stick with it once and for all.
Approximately 17% of the Oregon population smokes; that’s 487,540 Oregonians! Every year 174,000 women or one in five people in the United States die from smoking-related diseases. That makes a very large population of people, young and old, that are putting themselves at risk for many medical problems, including lung cancer, mouth cancer, cervical cancer, dental disease, premature aging and cardiovascular diseases, including strokes and heart attacks. Unfortunately about 3,000 non-smokers also die from lung cancer due to second-hand smoke. Smoking causes more deaths than illegal drugs, guns, alcohol and motor vehicle accidents combined.
As soon as your last cigarette is snuffed out the health benefits begin, according to the American Cancer Society. Within 20 minutes, blood pressure, body temperature and pulse rate drop to normal. Within eight hours, smoker's breath disappears. The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops and the oxygen level rises to normal. Within 24 hours, chances of heart attack decrease. Within 48 hours, nerves begin to recover and the ability to taste and smell improves. Within three days, breathing is easier. Within two to three months, blood circulation improves. Walking becomes easier. Lung capacity increases up to 30%. Within one to nine months, sinus congestion and shortness of breath decrease. Energy levels improve. Within one year, excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a person who smokes. Within two years, heart attack risk drops to near normal. Within five years, lung cancer death rate for a former pack-a-day smoker decreases by almost half. Stroke risk is reduced. Mouth, throat and esophageal cancer risks are half that of a smoker. Within 10 years, lung cancer death rate is similar to that of a non-smoker. Within 15 years, risk of coronary artery disease is the same as a never-smoker.
For women, smoking carries additional risks for cervical cancer; increases the risks of side effects with birth control pills; can cause delay in getting pregnant; increases the risk of ectopic/tubal pregnancy; and carries significant risks to unborn babies, including low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome.
Set a target quit date to get ready to quit smoking. Give yourself a few weeks to prepare mentally and physically for the big day. Get rid of all reminders about smoking: packs of cigarettes, ashtrays, lighters, matches. Clean your clothes, your home and your car to get rid of the smoke smell and give yourself a fresh start. Enlist the help of your family and friends to keep you on track to achieve your goal. Find other ways to distract yourself, like reading, taking a walk, or listening to music. Keep non-smoking company by sticking to places where smoking is not allowed. Keep a jar labeled "I QUIT" and stash the money in it you would have spent on cigarettes and spend it on yourself. You deserve it!
There are many resources available to help you quit smoking. The Oregon Tobacco Quit Line is free and offers one-on-one telephone counseling. Call 800-QUIT-NOW for English and 877-2NO-FUME for Spanish. There are also great online resources, including
Remember that smoking is an addiction to nicotine and it can take the average smoker six to nine attempts over her lifetime before she has successfully quit smoking for good. If you are able to go three months without smoking, there is an excellent chance of remaining smoke-free for life. What are you waiting for? The time to quit smoking is NOW!
Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss other treatment options, such as nicotine products like gum, patches, lozenges and nasal sprays. There are also prescription oral medications, such as Zyban and Chantix, that can be very effective tools to help you quit smoking now.
Dr. Sharrel Carlton is a board-certified OB/GYN physician and surgeon who sees patients at the Oregon City and Canby offices of Women’s Healthcare Associates, LLC.