Smokers quit to improve their health and air for others
TNE Editor
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Smokers quit to improve their health and air for others

Published 12/1/16

Cecilia Wantland

TNE Writer

According to the American Heart Association, smoking is related to lung cancer and can cause heart disease, stroke and other chronic lung diseases. Smoking can also increase one’s risk for cancer of the bladder, throat and mouth, kidneys, cervix and pancreas. Cigarettes contain more than 5,000 chemicals, and hundreds of them are dangerous to human health. Many of these chemicals are linked to causing cancer.

The consequences of smoking do not end with the smoker. There is a risk for anyone around the smoke. This is known as secondhand smoke. It is a health hazard to others. It is especially hazardous tochildren because the excess smoke still contains the harmful chemicals and can potentially trigger asthma attacks to those who have asthma.  Nonsmokers who have high blood pressure or high cholesterol are at an even greater risk of developing heart diseases when exposed to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke contributes to approximately 34,000 premature heart disease deaths and 7,300 lung cancer deaths. Studies show the risk of developing heart disease is about 25-30 percent higher among people exposed to environmental tobacco smoke at home or work. Secondhand smoke promotes illness, too. Children of smokers have more respiratory infections than do children of nonsmokers. Though scientists still do not know the exact cause of sudden infant death syndrome, infants whose parents smoke are at a higher risk of SIDS.

 Quitting is not impossible. Thousands of people kick the habit every year. Smoking is the most preventable cause of deaths each year in the U.S., and 90 percent of lung cancer is linked to smoking. Fifty-four percent of Americans from the ages of 3-11 are exposed to these harsh chemicals though secondhand smoke. Not only will quitting help improve a person’s personal health, but it will also help those around them and improve their lifestyle.

Some of the main causes people start smoking are social circles, environment and peer pressure. If a person is around people who smoke and are exposed to it, they are more likely to pick up the habit themselves.

“I was still in high school when I began smoking,” said Rosario Cardenas, McAllen, Texas resident. “Everyone I hung out with was a smoker. When they got me to try it, I became hooked. I have tried quitting, but always found myself back to smoking. The last time I attempted to quit was earlier this year. I tried cold turkey and only made is a little over a week again. I haven’t given up though. My doctor will be prescribing me something to help me quit within the next few months.”

When quitting, some people slowly switch to electric cigarettes or vaping so they still get their nicotine, the addictive element in cigarettes, without the harmful chemicals and tar. This eliminates secondhand smoke.

“I decided to quit when I began having chest pains from smoking,” said Taylor Dunn, Tahlequah senior. “I quit the day after Thanksgiving last year and started using a vape. Since I quit I no longer have any chest pain.”

The Huffington Post stated that, unlike smoking, vaping involves the inhalation of vaporized e-cigarette liquid consisting of water, nicotine, a base of propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin, and, occasionally, flavoring. The lack of smoke inhalation is what leads many e-cigarette users to believe vaping is a safer alternative to smoking. Though it does not contain all the harmful toxins in the smoke, vaping does increase the risk of lung infections. There is still some risk, but many see it as the lesser of two evils.

Lora Buechele is the assistant coordinator of Cherokee county healthy living. She helps work toward a tobacco-free environment and helps people live a better life.

“To help those who wish to quit, people can call the Oklahoma helpline or visit okhelpline.com,” said Buechele.

Oklahoma helpline has 24/7 support for those trying to quit and will help create a customized quit plan that will work best for each person looking for help. When signing up with the helpline, people can receive a web coach, supportive text, a quit guide and a free starting kit to quitting. Coaches offer support.

“Some of the coaches are actually smokers that have quit,” said Buechele.

Quitting might be tough, but is not impossible. If support is needed to assist in the quitting process, call 1-800-QUITNOW, or visit okhelpline.com.


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