Thursday is Great American Smokeout day
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010 | Staff Reports | Categories:
Leslie Tomlin wants to quit smoking, but she’s not quite ready to take that step Thursday — Great American Smokeout day. The American Cancer Society’s annual smokeout is designed to encourage smokers to quit for a day, in the hope they may quit for good. More and more smokers want to quit because of rising cigarette prices and increased anti-smoking laws and employer requirements. The lung association says 443,000 Americans die every year from tobacco-related illnesses and secondhand smoke exposure, making tobacco the leading cause of preventable death. If everyone stopped smoking, “We could close at least a third of hospital beds” nationwide because of the numerous problems associated with smoking, said Dr. Jeffrey Miller, a physician who specializes in lung problems and critical care, and is medical director of Aultman Hospital’s Give It Up smoke cessation program. Tomlin plans to begin that program in December. Top killer Among the cancers, lung cancer is the biggest killer, by far, and women face greater risks, including cardiac disease, he said. While breast cancer is more common, it has a better cure rate than lung cancer. Miller said children under 6 face a much greater risk of health problems from second-hand smoke than do older children and adults. Tomlin, 47, of Canton, Ohio, smokes about two packs a day. She was an occasional smoker since she was 18, but, “In ’95, the year my cat died, I couldn’t stop smoking. I couldn’t put it down,” she said. “That’s when my depression kind of set in.” Tomlin has no children, and “That 10-year-old cat was like my child. I was devastated.” She’s tried to stop many times at least eight times in the past 15 years mainly because of bronchitis that would last up to three months, she said. Tomlin has tried smoking cessation programs, and said many in the class were reluctant to quit smoking. “They were afraid to take that step,” she said. “And if they did quit, they didn’t want to admit it if they started again. I just can’t look at it that way any more. It’s an addiction. I think I can conquer that addiction.” She said it would help if programs included help for those who have quit and are trying to maintain that. Smoking’s acceptance in society has changed. “Now it’s a stigma, where it didn’t used to be,” he said. “I think people try to quit because of that stigma.” It’s tough to quit. It’s easier to break an alcohol addiction than tobacco, he said, explaining that many people are able to stop drinking, but still smoke. An added factor that holds back many women from quitting is the possibility of weight gain, he said. “I try to get them into rehab programs.” The $5 to $6 cost of a pack of cigarettes adds up to “quite a bit of money,” and is an incentive to quit, he said. Also, “Most people, when they quit smoking, think their food tastes better,” Miller said. “If they can get off smoking, people are very happy.” And too many teens — where the social stigma isn’t as strong — are smokers, he said. “When you see people 35 and 36 years old dying from cancer, many are the people who started smoking when they were 12 or 13.” As soon as a person quits, the risk of heart attack and lung cancer go down. “They don’t go down to zero, but they go down,” Miller said. “It’s never too late to quit. You take that out and you close (hospital) beds all over the nation.The Leader