The leading cause of preventable death and illness in the United States is the use of tobacco, especially smoking cigarettes. It is the second leading cause of death worldwide, especially in developing countries.
Tobacco addiction costs over $200 billion per year per country in healthcare dollars and loss of productivity from illness and death. The diseases that most impact the mortality of adult smokers are atherosclerotic vascular disease, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The association between inhaling tobacco smoke and developing lung cancer was first noted in 1912. The scientific evidence concerning the deadly effects of tobacco use continues to grow. In spite of this evidence, global smoking rates continue to rise due mainly to lower costs, advertising and promotion aimed towards developing countries.
Mark Twain once quipped that “Quitting smoking is easy. I do it every day.”
His remarks allude to the extreme difficulty that most smokers encounter when they try to quit. According to most addiction specialists, nicotine is one of, if not the most, addictive substance known to man. It is more addictive than alcohol, cocaine and heroin.
It is both a stimulant and a depressant and like other addictive substances, it meets the needs of the user each time. The ingredients in nicotine produce euphoria and also a calming effect for the smoker.
Since 1950, the tobacco industry has been aware of the addictive nature of nicotine, but continues to downplay the seriousness of the addiction. Nicotine addiction is influenced by dependence on the drug, genetic factors and also the psychosocial factors that help maintain smoking.
In 2005, the U.S. Surgeon General released a report providing proof that there is no safe level of exposure to second hand smoke. Second hand smoke or SHS is the combination smoke released when smokers exhale tobacco smoke from their lungs and from the smoke from a burning cigarette. Non-smokers exposed to SHS may develop heart disease, lung cancer, breast cancer and other cancers seen in smokers.
Children who are exposed to SHS are at risk for developing asthma and upper respiratory diseases. Pregnant women exposed to SHS are more likely to deliver prematurely and have low birth weight babies.
Smokers who participate in cessation programs that provide support and use nicotine replacement products (NRT) such as the nicotine patch or gum, increase their success rate from five percent to 40 to 50 percent.
The Franklin County Health Department (FCHD) offers the Cooper/Clayton method to stop smoking. Developed by Dr. Cooper and Dr. Clayton from the University of Kentucky, the program provides smokers with the tools they will need to take back their lives.
The course is taught over a 13-week timeframe. The groups meet once a week for an hour for 13 weeks and use a step-down program to decrease the smoker’s dependence on nicotine gradually and safely.
FCHD will offer two programs this spring. One will be on Wednesdays, starting on April 11 at 4-5 p.m. The second class will be held on Thursday mornings beginning on April 12 from 9-10 a.m. at the Public Health Center, 851 East West Connector.
For more information, visit the website at fchd.org or call 564-5559.