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Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the nation; yet, it’s linked to approximately one-third of all heart disease-related deaths. Cardiovascular disease accounts for about 800,000 U.S. deaths yearly, making it the leading cause of all deaths in the country. Of those, nearly 20 percent are due to cigarette smoking.

The Heart of the Matter

Taking a “heart” look at the health risks tobacco and nicotine pose to individuals and families can be an important initial step in quitting.

  • Smokers are 2 to 4 times more likely to get heart disease than nonsmokers.
  • Smoking doubles a person’s risk for stroke.
  • Cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and other tobacco products contain various toxic chemicals, as do their smoke, vaping, aerosol, and liquids.
  • Approximately half of U.S. children ages 3-11 are exposed to secondhand smoke and vaping aerosol.
  • Tobacco use and nicotine addiction is a growing crisis for teens and young adults.
  • Within one year of quitting, the risk of heart disease is reduced by half.
  • Within four years of quitting, the risk of stroke drops to that of lifetime nonsmokers.

Plan a Date to Call it Quits

While breaking up is hard to do, the health benefits of not smoking are hard to beat. Quitting for good, however, is more likely with a plan.

  • A person should choose a day to quit in the next week or two to allow enough time to prepare but not forget.  It’s important to evaluate chosen date for possible stressors that could derail plans.
  • The method of quitting should also be predetermined—cold turkey or gradually.
  • Quit supports should be considered. Some may prefer assistance from a healthcare provider, medicine or nicotine replacement. Quitting can also involve family and friends. Informing them of quit plans and possible ways to help can be supportive on the quit journey.
  • Lifestyle should be examined for other preparations to be made in advance of quitting.
  • Quit on the Quit Date!

Combat Smoke Signals

Triggers to smoke, whether physical or mental, are inevitable but can be buffered.

  1. Avoid It! It’s important to avoid situations that increase the desire to smoke or use tobacco until the individual is confident of the ability to resist urges.
  2. Get Active! Physical activity is proven to help manage the stress of quitting. It also strengthens the heart and overall wellbeing.
  3. Reinforce It! A support program, buddy system, or quit hotline may be needed as reinforcements to combat common struggles of quitting.
  4. Reward and Restart! Rewards for reaching milestones as well as grace for missteps are necessary tools for staying the course and achieving success.

Quitting takes heart but can be life changing. With a thoughtful crafted plan, patience, and persistence, smokers can clear the air and beat the odds!

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