By Dr. Eric Roberson
Facility Medical Director, Neighbors Emergency Center Pearland
When it comes to smoking in Texas, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is the percentage of Texas adults who smoke has dropped. The bad news is those adults who currently smoke represent approximately 3 million adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90% of those who smoke started prior to the age of 18. So, preventing tobacco use in our youth is the key to ending the tobacco epidemic.
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Texas. Smoking cigarettes causes more deaths than alcohol, car accidents, HIV, guns and illegal drugs combined. Smoking cigarettes is most closely associated with lung cancer, but also plays a significant role in cancers of the throat, esophagus, and bladder among others. It is also a leading cause of accelerated coronary artery disease, which leads to heart attacks.
Look at the benefits if you kick the smoking habit. According to the National Cancer Institute, within 20 minutes of quitting smoking your blood pressure and heart rate start to normalize. Within several hours your blood carbon monoxide levels begin to decrease and oxygen levels start to increase. In 2-3 days your sense of taste and smell will improve. Within several months you can expect significant improvement in lung function. Within five years the lung cancer death rate decreases by almost half and within 10 years, lung cancer death rate is similar to that of a person who does not smoke.
Here are proven methods that increase your chance for success. The Comprehensive Cancer Control Tobacco Work Group at MD Anderson Cancer Center has developed a Smoking Cessation Resource Guide for Galveston County (available at www.texascancer.info). These 5 steps can increase your chance for success.
- Get Ready – Set a quit date, remove tobacco products from your surroundings, and anticipate triggers.
- Get Support – Talk to family, health care providers, counselors and coaches.
- Learn New Skills – Reduce stress by reading, exercising, or enjoying a new sport.
- Get Medications – Chantix, Zyban, and several Nicotine preparations can double your chance of quitting for good when used correctly.
- Be prepared for relapse and difficult situations – Most people try several times before successfully quitting.
Kicking the habit isn’t easy but can help to alleviate and prevent health problems for smokers and the people around them.