SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Attention smokers. There’s no better day than the Thursday before Thanksgiving to try and kick the habit. It’s the American Cancer Society’s 43rd annual Great American Smokeout. And there’s some encouraging news this year.
The least amount of adults nationwide is smoking since records have been kept. However, smoking is still blamed for causing hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller took a look at what smoking does to your lungs and got some advice to make quitting smoking easier.
Smoking is something less and less of us are doing these days. The CDC says only 14 percent of adults in the U.S. smoke. It’s a habit which the American Cancer Society says kills nearly a half million people annually. Geisinger Cardiothoracic Surgeon James Klena, MD said, “Your lungs get an immediate reaction to the chemicals in the cigarette smoke.”
That smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals including at least 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Dr. Klena says smoking weakens and damages cells of the lungs and harms nearly every organ of the body.
So why wouldn’t a longtime smoker want to quit? The answer can be summed up in one word: nicotine. Dr. Klena said, “The brain is what wants the nicotine, craves nicotine. So just like caffeine, just like cocaine, just like heroin, there are dopamine centers in your brain.”
According to Dr. Klena, the probability of a smoker kicking the habit is only about 30 percent. If you want to quit yet feel addicted, don’t let it discourage you. “Those people, the best way to stop smoking is generally with a three-fold plan.”
For starters, Dr. Klena recommends a support group effort like Alcoholics Annonymous. Secondly, he says consider over-the-counter medications. “Nicotine patches or some supplement that essentially tries to wean them off the cigarettes with decreasing doses of nicotine.”
And thirdly, see a doctor who could prescribe medication which Dr. Klena says could be the smoking cessation solution you need.”Using those steps it’s not impossible.”
Nicotine withdrawal is at its worst for the first three months so getting through that time is the hardest. Remember, permanently quitting is a process so don’t give up if you struggle.