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Section III – Lifestyle Issues - Don’t Use Tobacco Products

HealthyLife® Students' Self-Care Guide

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 Section IIILifestyle Issues

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Don’t Use Tobacco Products

“When I was a student
at the University of Michigan, I was a 2 pack a day Marlboro smoker.
Luckily, my psychology professor suggested I design a stop smoking
program to help me fulfill a class assignment as well as to help me
become smoke-free. Not only did I successfully quit, but it launched
me into a career in health promotion. It was the best thing I have
ever done.”

Don R.
Powell, Ph.D.,
Founder and President of the American Institute
for Preventive Medicine and author of this guide

Benefits of Quitting

Smoking is our nation’s #1 preventable cause of illness and premature
death. Over 400,000 people in the U.S. die each year from the effects of

Because you are young, you may not be concerned about this or the
long-term consequences of smoking cigarettes or cigars. You may not worry
about getting lung cancer, emphysema, and/or heart disease, because if one
or more of these occur, it will be 30 to 40 years down the road. These
illnesses may not motivate you to quit, but they should! Smoking is one of
the worst things you can do for your health! If health benefits don’t make
you want to quit smoking, focus on the immediate benefits of quitting, such

Fresher breath. Each year, smoking a
pack-a-day puts 1 cup of tar into your lungs. The tobacco tar causes bad
Fresher looking skin. Nicotine narrows
blood vessels which decreases blood flow. In the face, the result is
premature wrinkling. After as little as 5 years of smoking, your face
could show these wrinkles, known as “smoker’s face.”
Improved stamina. After smoking a few
packs of cigarettes or several cigars, your blood can contain up to 15
times as much carbon monoxide (the same poisonous gas in car exhaust) as
a nonsmoker’s blood. Carbon monoxide robs the body of oxygen causing a
slower reaction time and impaired energy, strength, and coordination.
Improved sexual performance. Males who
smoke have a more difficult time maintaining erections and have a lower
sperm count. Female smokers have a higher rate of infertility.

Smokers’ Excuses

Below are 6 common reasons smokers use to explain why they smoke and why
their reasons are incorrect.

I’ll gain weight if I quit.
People don’t gain weight because they quit smoking; they gain weight
because they eat more. Ex-smokers gain an average of 5 to 10 pounds. But
you can lose weight, or keep from gaining it, if you get more exercise,
stay away from fatty foods, and avoid nervous snacking.
I need cigarettes to relax.
Nicotine is actually a stimulant; it prompts the nervous system and the
adrenal glands to trigger the release of adrenaline, the “fight or
flight” hormone. Adrenaline leaves you feeling wired, not relaxed.
I know lots of people who smoke.
They’re still healthy.
We all know people like this, but they’re
the exception rather than the rule. The odds are stacked against you.
Cigarettes won’t hurt me. I’m in
good shape.
Don’t bet on it. Even if you don’t die from smoking,
you’ll almost certainly have health problems, such as trouble breathing,
a hacking cough, high blood pressure, or heart disease. Quit now, before
the damage is done!
I’ve tried to quit dozens of times.
It’s no use.
If you’ve tried to quit smoking 8 times, and failed
8 times, each try increases the chance that you’ll succeed. Most
ex-smokers tried many times before they quit for good.
I can’t imagine life without
You weren’t born smoking; you picked up the habit.
You lived before you smoked. You’ll live after you quit. And you’ll
probably live longer!

Bidis – Not a Safe Alternative

Bidis are small brown flavored cigarettes made in India. They are
cheaper and easier to buy than regular cigarettes. They are also

One bidi produces more than 3 times the carbon monoxide and
nicotine than one cigarette and more than 5 times the amount of tar
than one cigarette.

In India, bidi-making employs about 5 million women and an
estimated 325,000 children a year, at wages as low as $.80 per day.
Many rollers suffer from lung disease from inhaling the tobacco dust.

The High Cost of Cigarettes

The boxes below show the minimum amount you
can save if you quit smoking now. The figures are based on an average cost
of $4.00 per pack. The totals don’t include the interest you would earn if
you put this money in the bank.

The Cost of ($)moking

Number of Packs a Day

Day $4.00          
Week $28.00          
Month $120.00          
Year $1,460.00          
10 Years $14,600.00          
20 Years $29,200.00          
30 Years $43,800.00          
40 Years $73,000.00          

Snuff Out Smokeless Tobacco

Regardless of whether you smoke it, chew it, or just place it between
your cheek and gums, all forms of tobacco are hazardous to your health.
“Snuff” and chewing tobacco were once considered safe alternatives to
cigarettes. They’re not. If you use smokeless tobacco, you absorb nicotine
through the mucous membrane of your mouth. Nicotine absorbed in this way is
no less addictive than nicotine inhaled from cigarettes or cigars. If you
use smokeless tobacco, you run a high risk of: Cancers of the mouth,
esophagus, larynx, and stomach; a precancerous condition called leukoplakia
(a whitish, wrinkling of the mouth lining); heart disease; gum disease; and
tooth decay.

The best way to avoid these risks, of course, is to never use smokeless
tobacco. But if you already use it, here are some suggestions to help you
give it up:

Ignore the appeals of sports figures who
promote smokeless tobacco in advertisements.
Use substitutes, such as gum, mints, or
toothpicks, etc.
Distract yourself with other activities.
Reward yourself each day you don’t chew

Medications That Can Help

Some tobacco users who are addicted to nicotine find it easier to quit
smoking using nicotine reduction therapy. This includes using a nicotine
patch (e.g., Nicoderm, Nicotrol), a nicotine gum (e.g., Nicorette), or
nicotine lozenges (e.g., Commit). These little doses of nicotine let them
reduce their nicotine cravings and wean themselves from cigarettes with less
anxiety and irritability. The patch, gum, and lozenges are available
over-the-counter. A nicotine nasal spray (e.g., Nicotrol NS) and a nicotine
inhaler (e.g., Nicotrol) are available by prescription.

Another prescribed medication (Zyban) does not contain nicotine, but
alters brain chemistry to help reduce cigarette cravings.

Also, studies have shown that combining a stop smoking medication with
behavior modification greatly increases your chances for success. For a
step-by-step guide to quit smoking:

Access Click on
“Online Products/365 Health Topics;” then “365 Health Topics;” then
“Contents Topic Order.” Scroll to Chapter 8. Click on number 195 - “Warm
Pheasant” Plan to Quit Smoking
Access Search for “Smoking Cessation.”

or call the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public-Health
Services, 800.358.9295 for a free copy of “You Can Quit Smoking.”

For More Information, Contact:

American Lung Association

800.LUNG.USA (586-4872)

Virtual Office of the Surgeon General

6th edition. American Institute for Preventive Medicine
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December 08, 2005