As the American Cancer Society prepares to help smokers kick the habit during tomorrow's Great American Smokeout, Cedars-Sinai is offering tips for quitting smoking, whether you are hooked on tobacco or vaping.
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), killing more than 480,000 Americans each year.
It's never too late to quit smoking, and some of the health benefits are immediate, like decreasing your risk of heart attack within 24 hours. The process may seem daunting, but with the right support and guidance, it's easier than you think."
Ching Chow, PharmD, Cedars-Sinai pharmacist
The CDC also cautions that vaping, which has been marketed as a healthier alternative to smoking, has been associated with at least 2,051 lung injury cases and 39 deaths in 2019. And a recent study from the Smidt Heart Institute showed that vaping could cause even more heart damage than traditional tobacco smoking.
Chow and her colleagues run Cedars-Sinai Medical Network's smoking cessation program, which recently expanded to Playa Vista. She offers the following tips for smokers and vapers who want to quit:
- Commit to quitting. Be honest with yourself about whether you're ready. Review the risks, including potential nicotine withdrawal symptoms-such as headaches-if you quit too quickly, and the rewards, including improved circulation, lower blood pressure and a decreased risk of lung cancer, among others.
- See your physician. See a physician or pharmacist for nicotine-replacement aids (patches, lozenges or gum with nicotine) or prescription drugs (mood stabilizers, nicotine blockers) that can ease cravings.
- Don't quit cold turkey. Stopping abruptly can increase risk of withdrawal side effects. Target a quit date that allows you to taper off your smoking habit at a reasonable pace. Most people need three to four weeks.
- Get moral support. Enlisting family and friends in your cause increases the odds that you'll stick to your plan. The CDC has a free hotline to help smokers quit: 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
- Make a plan to cope with cravings. Stretch, go for a walk or exercise, eat a healthy snack, suck on a lozenge or chew gum when you feel like smoking.
- Avoid triggers. Steer clear of places, foods or situations that you associate with smoking, such as drinking alcohol excessively or taking breaks on a patio where your co-workers smoke.
- Use professional help. If you need more guidance, sign up for a smoking cessation program. Benefits can include a tailored plan and extra moral support.
Cedars-Sinai's smoking cessation program offers participants one-on-one counseling with a clinical pharmacist, prescriptions for medications or nicotine replacement aids, and strategies to help control cravings. Health information about the risks of smoking and the benefits of stopping, behavior-modification education and carbon monoxide monitoring also are provided.