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Get the Tools You Need to Quit Smoking

October 11, 2011

Washington Hospital Workshop Shows You How to Quit Successfully 

As the holiday season approaches, it’s easy to put off healthy goals by making excuses. I’ll wait until after the holidays… I’ll make it my New Year’s resolutionI’m too stressed out to make any changes. But if you’ve decided to quit smoking – maybe even tried before to stop – then now is the time to get the support you need to quit.

Cigarettes contain nicotine, a powerfully addictive chemical that can take more than just will power to resist. It’s not easy to quit; however, there are steps you can take to overcome the urge to smoke and quit for life.

Want to stop smoking?

To help those who want to quit, Washington Hospital Healthcare System will hold a two-hour Stop Smoking Workshop on Tuesday, November 1, designed to help participants stop smoking by providing them with essential information and strategies needed to direct their own efforts at quitting.

According to Dr. Jason Chu, Medical Director for Pulmonary Rehab and Respiratory Care Services at Washington Hospital, individuals who incorporate the following components into their plans for quitting, maximize the chances of successfully quitting:

  • Physician intervention: Tell your doctor about your plans to quit and ask for his or her advice.
  •  Counseling: Seek out a social support network.
  • Pharmacological intervention: Talk to your doctor about new medications that may be able to help you overcome withdrawal symptoms.

“What I tell people is to try to be proactive, listen to the advice from your physicians and other health care practitioners and get a support system,” Dr. Chu suggests. “I believe once you become committed to quitting, you will feel compelled to follow through because you will see the benefits of quitting.”

Dr. Chu will talk about the effects of smoking, before a trained facilitator leads participants in the Stop Smoking Workshop, which will take place from 12 to 3 p.m. on November 1, in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium, Room B, at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, in Fremont.

The health risks and conditions attributed to smoking should not be ignored, Dr. Chu says. He points out that an estimated 80 to 90 percent of people who get lung cancer were smokers at some point in their lives. Additionally, smoking is linked to 90 percent of all chronic obstructive pulmonary disease deaths. Fortunately, those who quit receive immediate benefits that can outweigh the “high” of a nicotine fix.

“Data show that within 20 minutes of quitting your heart rate and blood pressure drop, which is not insignificant, considering that hypertension is a leading risk factor for strokes,” Dr. Chu says. “Over the long term, quitting smoking has enormous benefits, including reduced risk for coronary artery disease and an approximately 50 percent drop in your risk of dying from lung cancer.”

“Overall, the health benefits from quitting are significant in both health and longevity.”

Other immediate benefits of, cited by smokefree.gov, include:

  •  You feel more in charge of your life and decisions.
  • Your hair, clothes, and breath don’t smell like smoke.
  • Your car, home, and kids don’t smell like smoke.
  •   You can smell food and other good smells.
  • You feel more relaxed.
  • You don’t have to make sure you always have cigarettes.
  •  You have more money.
  •  You don’t have to be as worried about your health.
  •  You look and feel better.
  •   You feel good about being able to quit.
  •  Your skin looks healthier.
  • You have more energy.

Taking the First Step

“Quitting smoking is very difficult,” according to Ruth Traylor, Washington Hospital’s director of Community Outreach. “That’s why it’s important to have a plan. This workshop is the first step in helping participants stay focused on the goal.

“The class will cover the reasons they want to stop, as well as what has kept them from quitting in the past.”

Traylor points out that there is no “right” way to do it. People who want to quit smoking have to figure out the best way for them and the workshop helps them achieve this.

Participants will also learn tools to cope with withdrawal, including medications available that can ease symptoms like headaches, nausea, anxiety, insomnia, and intense cravings for nicotine.

“There are also activities, including exercise and relaxation techniques can help reduce some of the anxiety and stress associated with quitting,” she says.

Since staying smoke-free for life is the ultimate goal of the workshop, Traylor says part of the focus is on long-term maintenance.

“Developing a plan for coping with your triggers will make it that much easier to stick to your goal. For instance, if you smoke at work to reduce stress, you can plan other ways to keep calm, like taking time out to do a few relaxation exercises. Being prepared and having a plan are important elements to successfully quitting.”

Tools for success

To register for the Stop Smoking Workshop online, visit www.whhs.com; or call (800) 963-7070.

For more information or help with quitting, contact the California Smokers’ Helpline at (800) NO-BUTTS or www.californiasmokershelpline.org. To learn more about Washington Hospital and its programs and services, visit www.whhs.com.