FIRST STEPS TO QUIT SMOKING
 
by Dr. Virmarie Correa-Fernandez (LABHRT director) & MS Luane Rabello (Graduate Research Assistant) 

I want to quit smoking: where do I start?

       First step is to recognize your reasons to stop smoking: health related problems, saving money, protecting your loved ones from secondary and tertiary harms, or any other personal reason you might have. Write them down and put them in a visible place.

What comes next?

Establishing a plan to quit:

  • Stopping gradually or at once: if you decide to stop gradually it is important to schedule a due date to quit, ideally within the next 2 weeks. This can be a day that has some meaning to you (like a birthday or a holiday) or simply a day of the week when you have less stress.

  • Seeking social support: it is important that people you live with or meet daily are aware of your decision to stop smoking so they can give you the support needed in the quitting process.

  • Controlling the cigarette packs:  if you are going to stop gradually is important to reduce the number of cigarettes available per day (buying a fewer number of cigarettes). If you are stopping at once it is important to dispose your cigarette pack.

  • Remove from your environment –house and car- any smoking related paraphernalia or things that remind you of smoking, like ashtrays, lighter, etc. Clean your environment for a fresh air.

  • If you smoke inside home or in your work building, go outside every time you feel the urge to smoke: it will make the smoking time harder and help you decrease the number of cigarettes per day.

  • Decide if you are going to use medication or nicotine replacement therapy. Consult a pharmacist, medical doctor, or counselor for the right medication and dosage.

BENEFITS OF QUIT SMOKING
 
by Dr. Virmarie Correa-Fernandez (LABHRT director) & MS Luane Rabello (Graduate Research Assistant) 
  • Stop smoking can add years to your lifetime (9 years on average if you quit before the age of 40) [2];

  • Improves your blood levels of oxygen and your lung function (coughing and shortness of breath decrease) [2];

  • Reduces your risk of having coronary disease, stroke and lung cancer [2];

  • Improves your oral health and your skin;

  • Helps you saving money;

  • Improves your mental health;

  • Reduces your risk of getting severe complications when contaminated by the novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) [3]. 

How to deal with withdrawal symptoms along the process?!

 

          It is important to understand that the first 30 days are usually the most challenging when you stop smoking. Some withdrawals symptoms can occur such as:

   

           Dealing with all these symptoms might be hard, but keep in mind they are transitory and part of the recovery process. In order to help during this time you can take approved medications, including nicotine replacement therapy, do physical activity, do breathing exercises, improve your social support, try yoga and meditation, improve your diet with healthy foods and keep in mind your reasons to quit smoking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SMOKING PREVALENCE AND HARM
by Dr. Virmarie Correa-Fernandez (LABHRT director) & MS Luane Rabello (Graduate Research Assistant) 

            Around the world, 942 million men and 175 million women that are 15 years old or more are current smokers [4]. The prevalence of smokers in the U.S is approximately 38.7 million of adults (15.5%) in the population [2]. Although Hispanic/Latino adults have low rates of smoking, some nationality sub-groups show high rates of smoking such as Puerto Ricans (28.5%), Cubans (19.8%), Mexicans (19.1%) and Central or South Americans (15.6%) [1].

 Tobacco use is the main cause of premature death leading to 6 million of deaths per year around the world.

      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          Smoking is also related to the development of heart disease and stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), respiratory infections and different types of cancer. Likewise, secondhand smoke (smoked inhaled by people other than the active smoker) can cause harm in children and adults such as asthma, respiratory symptoms, coronary heart disease, lung cancer, and COPD as well [2].

I do not smoke a lot of cigarettes per day, am I still at risk?!

         You are considered a light smoker if you smoke on average less or equal to 10 cigarettes a day. Light smokers are also at risk of smoking harm since there is no safe dosage of smoking for your body and health. Light smokers are also at risk of cardiovascular disease, development of lung cancer and other types of cancer, lower respiratory infections (cough, asthma, etc.), and higher risks of mortality [5].

EASY TIPS TO QUIT
by Dr. Virmarie Correa-Fernandez (LABHRT director) & MS Luane Rabello (Graduate Research Assistant) 

  • Keep your body hydrated: increase your daily water intake;

  • You can replace the cigarette for carrots, straw, cloves or cinnamon pieces or unsweetened candies;

  • Start a new physical activity – yoga, walking, jogging, pilates, dancing, etc;

  • Try meditation (including Mindfulness Based programs);

  • Tell people around you that you are quitting so they can support you;

  • Recognize and be aware of your triggers to smoke: using the restroom, drinking alcohol, when you feel anxious, sad or stressed; and plan what you can do in these occasions;

  • Socialize more with non-smokers. If you live with someone who smokes, ask them not to smoke in your presence;

  • Put aside the money you save when you are not smoking, and give yourself a treat!

  • If you lapse and smoke while trying to quit, it’s OK. Learn from your that moment and start again! Persistence is key!

References: 

[1]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Disparities in Adult Cigarette Smoking—United States, 2002-2005 & 2010-2013. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; 65(30). Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6530a1.htm?s_cid=mm6530a1_w.

[2]Drope J, Schluger N, Cahn Z, Drope J, Hamill S, Islami F, Liber A, Nargis N, Stoklosa M.(2018). The Tobacco Atlas. Atlanta: American Cancer Society and Vital Strategies. Available at: https://tobaccoatlas.org/.

[3]Mungia R & Valdez DN. (2020). Smoking, Vaping, and the Benefits Cessation in Times of COVID-19: A Public Health Perspective.  1:618364. Doi: 10.3389/fdmed.2020.618364.

[4]Phillips JA G A, Homa DM, Babb SD, King BA, Neff LJ. (2018). Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults— United States, 2016. . Doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6702a1.

[5]Schane RE, Ling, PM & Glantz, SA. (2010). Health Effects of Light and Intermittent Smoking: A Review. Contemporary Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine Volume 121, Issue 13, 6 April 2010, Pages 1518-1522. Doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.904235.

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