by Timothy Marquez, BA, RRT – Former MCHS Pulmonary Patient Educator/Cardiopulmonary
Cold Hard Facts from Texas health and Human Services and Center for Disease Control:
- According to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, the average age a person first starts using tobacco is 12 to 13 years old.
- Almost nine out of 10 adults who smoke started before they were 18.
- A person who smokes one pack a day for a year spends approximately $2,184 on cigarettes.
- Tobacco is one of the most heavily advertised and promoted products in the U.S. In 2001, the tobacco industry spent a combined $719.2 million advertising tobacco in Texas.
- Studies show nicotine is more addictive than heroin, cocaine and alcohol.
- Over 400,000 Americans die each year due to tobacco related diseases.
This is the “heavy of the situation” for the tobacco epidemic. When it comes to smoking, many have attributed it to lung cancer. However, for many years now, the health data has proven its links to many other additional diseases that could lead to death. These include increased risks for stroke, artery disease, blood clots, bladder cancer, COPD, heart disease or heart attack … just to name a few.
HOWEVER, there is good news! For many years, the great State of Texas has been working on a solution for tobacco use prevention, finding funding to support the fight against tobacco use and partnering with local communities’ hospitals, clinics, healthcare organizations and programs to accomplish the goal of tobacco cessation.
If you smoke, you still have a fighting chance to STOP smoking. And after you quit, you can stay a non-smoker for as long as you choose. Is this process easy? No, it won’t be easy. But you will be better for it!
There are smoking cessations programs throughout Texas. The program through Medical Center Hospital System is called Smoking Independence Classes and they are held on Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the MCH Cardiopulmonary Education Room.
Programs such as these not only help you quit, but provide helpful tips to stay tobacco free. The focus isn’t in replacing the habit or addiction, but turning it around into the focus on dealing with stress, fear, anxiety, negative emotions in a positive manner. There are many reasons why people smoke, and most of them have to do with stress. There are healthier alternatives to relieve stress.
In addition to focusing on coping skills, in the MCHS Smoking Independence Classes, we discuss diet and exercise. According to the Cancer Center for Research at University of South Florida, four out of five people gain weight after quitting smoking. Some of the reason has to do with replacing one bad habit with another bad habit (CCUSF, 2000).
By working with the individual on “why they smoke”, we can provide a supportive and encouraging atmosphere for them. Like most programs, we suggest that the person surround themselves with supporters who want them to quit smoking. The more supporters a person has on board, the better their chances are for success!
For anyone who smokes, please value yourself and realize your worth. You deserve better for yourself than to be trapped by the use of tobacco. You have a fight to win … find your drive and motivation! YOU CAN DO THIS!