LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 14, 2018) – Quitting tobacco is the single best thing a person can do for their health and wellbeing. On any given day, about half of the tobacco users think about quitting using willpower alone. In fact, trying to quit “cold turkey” has a poor success rate, with only five out of 100 people quitting when only relying on willpower.
The Great American Smokeout on Thursday, November 15 is the perfect opportunity to talk about what is available to help Kentuckians quit and to stay quit. It is also a good day to give quitting a try.
Tobacco use is a chronic addiction to nicotine and causes serious and severe health conditions, such as heart attacks, stroke and cancer. Even after quitting, relapse, or starting to smoke again, is common. The good news is that when you are off tobacco products, these bad effects will be greatly reduced or even reversed. Within days to weeks of quitting, heart and lung function improves and most people begin to notice a positive effect on their well-being.
Medications, such as nicotine replacement, treat nicotine withdrawal symptoms and help tobacco users stay quit. Nicotine withdrawal commonly causes feelings of nervousness, irritability inability to think clearly, and leads to strong urges to use tobacco. Without medication, experiencing these symptoms will usually lead to a quick return to using tobacco products.
There is more good news for those trying to quit. Currently most Kentucky insurers, including Medicaid, cover all proven smoking cessation treatments without copays. Therefore, quitting saves you money and getting help is free! Most plans cover:
- All seven medications: Nicotine patch, gum, lozenge, inhaler, nasal spray; bupropion (Zyban®); varenicline (Chantix®)
- Individual cessation counseling.
- Coverage in most cases is available for at least two quit attempts per year.
Groups and telephone counseling through Quit Now Kentucky (1-800-QUITNOW) are also available free of charge and may provide free nicotine replacement. Check with the quitline or your local health department. Online support is also free at smokefree.gov and cancer.org/smokeout.
There is a common misperception that electronic cigarettes are a safe alternative to tobacco cigarettes. Recent studies have shown that the "vapor" from e-cigarettes is actually a toxic aerosol of fine particles that inflame the airways and can have other potentially harmful effects on your body. E-cigarettes are not an approved FDA smoking cessation method, and smokers who use e-cigarettes often delay quitting and are less likely to stay quit than smokers who use proven cessation treatments.
If you use tobacco, think about quitting for the Great American Smokeout, or any day, and know you do not have to do it alone. Talk to your health care provider, local health department and/or call the quitline (1-800-QUITNOW). If you are a health care provider, help your patients quit by offering them proven and affordable treatments. If you are an employer, provide your employees ready access to all of the proven smoking cessation treatments. The single best thing any tobacco user can do for their health is to quit. So get help and free yourself from tobacco, for a day and for your life.
For more information, contact BREATHE, University of Kentucky College of Nursing: www.breathe.uky.edu
Audrey Darville is an associate professor in the UK College of Nursing and a Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist.