By: Dr. Luke Fortney, Medical Director, Meriter Wellness Programs
- There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. Any exposure to tobacco smoke – even an occasional cigarette or exposure to secondhand smoke – is harmful. Secondhand smoke increases heart disease risk by 30% and causes as many as 46,000 heart-related deaths, each year, among non-smokers. Among children, second hand smoke is shown to be directly related to 300,000 new cases of bronchitis and pneumonia every year, as well as more frequent and severe asthma attacks, ear infections and overall respiratory infections.
- Damage from tobacco smoke is immediate. Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals and chemical compounds, all of which damage your lungs and DNA every time you inhale. Your blood circulates these toxins throughout every part of your body, causing DNA damage, which can lead to cancer. The toxin-filled smoke also causes damage to blood vessels and increases plaque buildup that results in heart attacks and strokes. Smoke damage to the lungs leads to asthma attacks, emphysema/COPD, chronic bronchitis and lung cancer. The good news is that all these issues are improved dramatically by stopping smoking.
- Cigarettes are designed for addiction. Nicotine is the most common form of chemical dependence on the US. Perhaps worse, tobacco products are intentionally designed & manipulated to make them more attractive and addictive. Because of this, nicotine products quickly lead to addiction, causing people to continue smoking even when they want to quit.Quitting is difficult and often requires several attempts, with many people relapsing due to stress. Meriter’s groundbreaking program, Mindfulness Training for Smokers, is designed to help individuals face and effectively deal with stressors. By helping smokers learn to better handle stress with basic mindfulness practices, more people are able to finally kick the habit—for good.
- Quitting smoking is possible! The majority of smokers are able to eventually quit (which is encouraging to know!) The following strategies are shown to be highly effective in helping smokers quit successfully.
1. Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation during your next appointment. Just talking with your doctor for a few minutes can be extremely helpful, acting as the beginning to the quitting process.
2. Counseling with an experienced smoking cessation therapist individually, with a group or on the phone is essential for most people. The more time you spend in person-to-person contact around smoking cessation, the better your chances are for quitting and staying quit.
3. Medications can help. There are several options that can be tailored to your specific needs.
Mindfulness Training for Smokers at Meriter uses all of these strategies, simultaneously, which is why quit rates are so high. It all starts with YOU. Call us at 608-417-QUIT (7848). Let us help you quit smoking and take that first and most important step toward wellness!
Read this week’s blog post about Kelly Bodoh’s experience with the Mindfulness Training for Smokers program to learn how it can change your life.