Incomprehensible as it sounds today, just a few short decades ago advertisements abounded with doctors (yes, medical doctors and dentists) actually endorsing smoking and certain brands of cigarettes.
One print advertisement from 1930 boasts, “20,679 physicians say that Lucky Strike cigarettes are less irritating.” An ad that appeared in 1946 proudly proclaimed, “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.” A 1950’s ad depicts a white-coated dentist announcing, “As your dentist, I would recommend Viceroys.” (You gotta love a brand that uses the word “vice” in its name. Talk about truth in advertising…)
Eventually, the tide turned and the truth began coming out. A report by the Surgeon General of the United States in 1964 noted that nicotine and tar in cigarettes cause lung cancer. A year later, Congress passed the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act stating that cigarette packages must carry a warning label. In 1971, Congress passed a law forbidding companies to advertise cigarettes on TV and radio.
The days of doctors advocating smoking may be history, but tobacco use is still the greatest single preventable cause of disease and premature death in America. It’s responsible for over 440,000 deaths each year, including those caused by secondhand smoke. At least 30 percent of all cancer deaths are related to smoking.
The good news is that far fewer Americans are smoking cigarettes today, down to 18 percent of the population in 2012 (the latest year for which statistics are available) as compared to 42 percent of the population in 1965. But that still means:
•42 million adults smoke cigarettes
•13.4 million smoke cigars
•9 million use “smokeless” or “spit” tobacco
•2.5 million smoke tobacco in pipes
If you think today’s youth are wise to the dangers of tobacco, think again. Government surveys show tobacco use is more common than you might imagine given the wealth of information about its inherent dangers. As of 2012:
•23 percent of male high school students use some form of tobacco
•18 percent of female high school students use some form of tobacco
•7 percent of middle school students use some form of tobacco
The “N” Word
A major reason it’s so hard to stop using tobacco is because of nicotine, a chemical naturally found in tobacco. Before you beat yourself up, you should know that research suggests nicotine may be as addictive as alcohol, heroin or cocaine. It holds the dubious honor of having more people under its addictive hold than any other drug in America.
Many people quit using tobacco for a brief period but quickly find themselves reaching for it again because of nicotine’s nasty withdrawal symptoms, which may include:
•Anxiety, anger, irritation, feeling “down”
Plain and simple, it’s no fun as your body adjusts to not having nicotine, but if you can hang tough, most symptoms are gone after that first week when withdrawal symptoms are strongest. (Tobacco cravings, however, can last longer.)
That’s why it often takes multiple attempts to quit for good—and why it makes sense to follow a proven method for getting off tobacco.
Smoking By Region
Where you live may influence whether or not you “light up.” Here’s a quick breakdown of cigarette smokers by population:
Source: American Cancer Society
note to friends and family members
Someone you love uses tobacco, and you’d like for them to quit for a host of good reasons. Those reasons may be positive, but keep in mind, you can’t force someone to end a bad habit. The following techniques have been used by a multitude of people trying to get a loved one to quit. What they have in common is that they don’t work!
•Using a negative or fear-based approach
•Acting angry and judgmental
•Pushing someone to set a “quit date”
•Using guilt tactics
different ways to quit:
Giving up tobacco completely and all at once.
Extra inspiration to quit: You’ll start noticing some health benefits right away.
Gradually cutting back on tobacco use over time until you’ve totally quit.Extra inspiration to quit: It’s been said, “Quitting smoking is a marathon, not a sprint.” Don’t beat yourself up when you slip. Instead, evaluate your weaknesses and renew your commitment to stop.
Trying again to quit after several failed past attempts.
Extra inspiration to quit: Stay away from alcohol; it lowers your resistance to tobacco use and typically puts you in a setting where you’re surrounded by smokers.
Using tobacco/nicotine substitutes to overcome cravings.Extra inspiration to quit: Create a tobacco-free environment to improve your odds of success.
Using medication to break the habit.
Extra inspiration to quit: Realize that you’ll have a better outcome if you get extra help, such as therapy or counseling.
Smoking can shorten your life by as much as 14 years. If you need more reasons to quit, keep reading:
•Lowered risk for lung cancer and many other types of cancer
•Reduced risk for heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease
•Reduced heart disease risk within one to two years of quitting
•Reduced respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
•Reduced risk of developing some lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD, one of the leading causes of death in the United States
•Reduced risk for infertility and babies of low birth weight in women of childbearing age
•Financial savings, both from cigarettes and health problems
Sources: CDC.gov, familydoctor.org
quitting for good
Because November marks National Smoking Cessation Month and Lung Cancer Awareness Month, if you use tobacco, now’s the perfect time to pick your “quit date.” Of course, if, like many smokers and tobacco users, you’ve tried to stop before, you know there’s a lot more to quitting this habit than just picking a date.
Here’s some good news: The number of former smokers has outnumbered current smokers since 2002. The following treatment and methods have been proven effective for people who want to quit using tobacco: counseling (may be telephone, individual or group); advice from a health care professional; treatment and support via cell phone; behavioral therapies; nicotine replacement products (over-the-counter and prescription); and non-nicotine prescription medication.
Nicotine replacement products include nicotine patch, gum lozenge, inhaler and nasal spray.
Non-nicotine medications include bupropion SR (Wellbutrin or Zyban®) and varenicline tartrate (Chantix®) and require a doctor’s prescription. Bupropion SR medications are meant to reduce symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and reduce your urge to smoke. Varenicline helps ease withdrawal symptoms and blocks the effects of nicotine if you start smoking again.
Always follow doctor’s recommendations when using any of these prescription medications. They are not for everyone, and some have possible side effects.
“There are many anecdotal stories related to smoking cessation, ranging from the bizarre to the simply unproven,” notes Norman H. Edelman, M.D., senior consultant for scientific affairs for the American Lung Association. “We can only rely on those that have been tested scientifically and found to be effective. Using untested methods usually results in a waste of both time and money.”
For the record, it’s been shown that using medication, together with counseling, is more effective for treating tobacco dependence than using either method on its own.
Coverage may be provided by your insurance, health plan, clinic or a quitline, making the cost of medication greatly reduced or even free to eligible adults.
You may have never even thought about how ingrained tobacco has become in your life… until you attempt to quit using it.
The following can help:
Consciously change your routine to avoid tobacco temptation.
Stay away from situations and people where you’ll be tempted to use tobacco.
Keep your hands busy.
Spend more time with people who don’t use tobacco.
Find another outlet for stress (exercise, walk, squeeze a “stress ball,” etc.).
don’t fall for the smokeless myth
Contrary to what you’d like to believe, smokeless tobacco, including chewing tobacco, snuff, e-cigarettes, and waterpipes (hookahs), aren’t harmless or safer than cigarettes. The truth is that these “cigarette alternatives” can actually expose you to the same—or even greater—amount of toxins and chemicals.
“It is well established that smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to smoking and leads, for example, to cancers of the oral cavity, which can themselves be fatal,” says Dr. Edelman.
Some smokeless tobacco products contain more nicotine than cigarettes and can increase your risk of mouth and throat cancer, along with gum disease and tooth decay.
It can be helpful to use an “oral substitute” for smokeless tobacco. You can use nicotine replacement products or something that doesn’t contain nicotine, such as sugarless gum, sunflower seeds and even beef jerky.
Thousands of dippers have successfully quit using smokeless tobacco by using Bacc-Off, a non-tobacco chew, which came on the market in 1993. Clinical studies at Mississippi and Oklahoma universities showed that participants had significantly lowered stress and withdrawal symptoms when using Bacc-Off to stop dipping.
The process involves mixing Bacc-Off with your regular chewing tobacco and gradually reducing your tobacco and nicotine dependence. Because the process is gradual, withdrawal discomfort is lessened and the odds of successful quitting are increased.
The herbal product contains no tobacco and is made from FDA-approved ingredients, including tea and mint leaves. Because the product has a taste and texture similar to chewing tobacco, it allows users to enjoy dipping without the health risks associated with smokeless tobacco.
For details on how to use the product to quit dipping, visit dipstop.com or call (800)-8NO-CHEW.
make that call
A quit smoking program offers free support, practical advice and counseling, along with a personalized plan to help you achieve success.
For help from the National Cancer Institute, call (877) 44U-QUIT.
For help from your state quitline, call (800) QUIT-NOW.
For text support, use the go quit support through your mobile phone with the SmokefreeTXT text messaging program.