It's the Great American Smokeout and a revamped Tobacco Quitline can help
By Mary Wade Triplett
In that short time frame, he completely lost the urge and never started back up. It ended up being a pretty easy way to quit, considering the immensely powerful addictive qualities of nicotine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people in the United States are addicted to nicotine than to any other drug. Research suggests that nicotine may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine or alcohol.
In spite of quitting, my dad developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), which eventually took his life. Of course, smoking also increases the risk for heart attacks, lung cancer and stroke.
But he was lucky, in a way. He made it to 80. I can’t imagine what his quality of life and lifespan would have been had he continued smoking from middle to old age.
Coincidentally, he quit smoking around 1977, the same year the Great American Smokeout began.
Created and promoted by the American Cancer Society, the Great American Smokeout, held on the third Thursday of November—tomorrow--is a simple idea.
Encourage people to give up smoking for just one day. If they’re lucky, they’ll feel better and see that it’s doable.
And maybe they will not smoke the next day, and the next.
And maybe a week later, on Thanksgiving, that turkey dinner will taste a little bit better, because smoking dulls your taste buds.
As the American Cancer Society points out: 20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. After 12 hours, carbon monoxide levels in your blood drop to normal.
After two weeks to three months, circulation improves and lung function increases.
After one to nine months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Cilia start to regain function in your lungs, increasing their ability to clean the lungs and reduce the risk of infection.
If you want to quit, there is help out there beyond the promise of a healthier body and a tastier holiday meal.
The West Virginia Tobacco Quitline has recently changed vendors and efforts are being made to improve services.
One new component is the ability to enroll online via a new website, said Lindsy Hatfield, program director.
That saves participants the time of calling and answering questions—or having to wait for a call back. The individual is assigned to a coach, who connects with the person to offer products, the scope of which depends on insurance, as well as unlimited coaching calls.
Anyone who has insurance seeking Quitline help is considered underinsured, Hatfield said, because that means the person’s insurance doesn’t offer another cessation program. The West Virginia Bureau for Public Health handles clients who are underinsured or uninsured.
These clients receive an eight-week supply of nicotine patches, lozenges or gum, delivered in four shipments, in addition to coaching calls. A client can enroll once every six months.
Medicaid clients receive a smoking cessation prescription such as Chantix via a physician prescription. “If they have Medicaid, we get it approved for them and they pick it up at a pharmacy,” Hatfield said.
Four coaching calls are included for everybody to assist during the quitting process, as well as unlimited reactive coaching calls.
“If you need more coaching than that, you are welcome to call as much a you need,” Hatfield said.
The first coaching call includes questions about the client’s smoking habits. This allows the program to be tailored to each individual, Hatfield said.
“If you smoke two packs a day, we will not start you on 7 mg patches a day,” she said. “You’ll receive 21 mg patches and do a step-down process.”
To get started, go online or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
Who knows? Maybe in a mere six weeks, you’ll enter 2020 needing to find a new resolution to make because you already quit cigarettes.
And maybe by the time the next Great American Smokeout rolls around, you will be celebrating how your risk of coronary heart disease is half that of someone who still smokes, and your heart attack risk will have dropped dramatically.
And the Thanksgiving turkey will taste really great, too.