Health Alert: The Great American Smokeout

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. (WDTV) -- Quitting smoking isn’t easy. It takes time and a plan. You don’t have to stop smoking in one day; however, start with day one. Joining us tonight is Elizabeth H. Hess, MD, UHC Family Medicine physician and faculty.

Question: Why is the Great American Smokeout so important?

Answer: Unfortunately, smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world.

Cigarette smoking is responsible for 480,000 deaths per year in the United States. This is about one in five deaths annually or 1,300 deaths in the US every day are a consequence of smoking. Over 40,000 deaths are a result from secondhand smoke.

West Virginia has the highest smoking rate in the country – 24.8 % of adults and 10% of teens smoke according to 2016 CDC data.
And WV also has the highest rate of pregnant women smoking in the nation.

For more than 40 years, the American Cancer Society has hosted the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November. The Great American Smokeout is an opportunity for smokers to commit to healthy, smoke -free lives.

The Great American Smokeout challenges people to stop smoking and helps them learn about the many tools they can use to help them quit and stay smoke free. Seeking help to stop smoking can double or triple your success in quitting. American Smokeout event challenges people to stop smoking and helps people learn about the many tools they can use to help them quit and stay quit.

Question: Within minutes of smoking your last cigarette, how does your body begin to recover?

Answer: There are immediate and long-term benefits when you stop smoking.

• Within about 15 minutes your heart rate and blood pressure will lower.

• It takes about 12 hours for the carbon monoxide to clear from your blood.

• Over the next few months, your cilia in your lung recover and you are able to clear mucus and debris better and reduce your risk of infection.

• You cut your risk of heart disease in half after one year.

• In 10 years your risk of lung cancer is 50% lower than if you had continued to smoke.

• By 15 – 20 years of being smoke-free your risk of heart disease and lung cancer can return to that of a non-smoker.
Life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than that of non-smokers.

Quitting smoking before the age of 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking-related diseases by about 90%.

Question: What is the one bit of advice you would like to share with a smoker?

Answer: It’s not too late to quit and you can quit.

I think a lot of people feel that they have done irreversible damage to their bodies and that it’s too late to make a difference in their health, but as we just reviewed, that’s not the case.

Smokers may also be discouraged by unsuccessful previous attempts to quit and fear they may fail again.

Studies show it may take several attempts before quitting for good. Seeking support and cessation treatment greatly improves the success rate of quitting.

Resources such as 1-800-QUIT-NOW and Smokefree.gov as well as meeting with your personal physician can greatly increase your success in quitting.

Hopefully, current smokers can use the Great American Smokeout as a date to make a change and find support to break a harmful habit.

WEB EXCLSUIVE
Question: Why do e-cigarettes and specifically JUULs appeal to youth and what risks do JUULs pose to youth?

Answer: JUULs are made to resemble flash drives. They have a high tech feel and appearance, and both the product itself and the marketing of it make it look very cool. In comparison with some other e-cigarettes, JUULs are harder to detect. They’re small and can be hidden in the palm of the hand, and they emit little visible aerosol. Kids are known to be using them in school restrooms and even in the classroom. They come in flavors advertised as fruit medley, cool mint, and crème brulee.

Studies have found that most kids are not aware of the potential risks they face by using e-cigarettes, including JUULs. JUULs deliver a higher concentration of nicotine than some other types of e-cigarettes. Some kids do not even know that JUULs contain nicotine. They don’t understand they are being exposed to an addictive drug that also can harm a young person’s brain development, as reported in the 2016 Surgeon General’s report on e-cigarettes and youth.

The brain is still developing well into the mid-20s and even beyond, so health concerns apply not only to teens, but also to college-age users. Some kids are reported to have become physically dependent on nicotine, and are using JUULs not just recreationally, but also compulsively, to sustain what has turned into a drug problem.