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A Message from Dr. Stephen Kindred – Assistant Vice President, Corporate Medical
There are nearly 46 million adults in the United States (U.S.), age 18 or older who smoke cigarettes. There are also a multitude of triggers that spark people to smoke a cigarette or use tobacco: a cup of coffee, a stressful situation, and/or the end of a meal.
Although the number of adults who smoke is on the decrease, smoking still stands to be the most preventable cause of death in the U.S. So, why is it hard for smokers to quit? The answer is nicotine, a drug found naturally in tobacco.
Over time, a person becomes physically dependent on and emotionally addicted to nicotine. The physical dependence causes unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when someone tries to stop. The emotional and mental addiction makes it difficult to stay away from nicotine, even after quitting. And when a trigger is present, the difficulty is magnified.
Take it from Karen, Supply & Distribution Specialist at the Corporate MRSF, who quit smoking after more than 30 years of enjoying the habit. “I began smoking at the age of 15 when it was the ‘cool’ thing to do,” admits Karen. “When confronted with stressful situations, I would smoke as much as 1-2 packs of cigarettes a day. I would stress-shovel my food into my mouth as well.”
Over the years, Karen’s addiction and eating habits led to weight gain, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Although she was placed on medications for her hypertension and cholesterol levels, she was ready to make a more dramatic difference. She quit smoking “cold turkey” in 2008!
Then, in March of 2011, she decided to focus on her weight by starting a diligent exercise regimen and eating program. “Since March, I have lost 104 pounds and I no longer need medicines to control my blood pressure and cholesterol,” says Karen. “I am 52 years old and loving life again!”
Although Karen was able to kick the habit with her own will, many people need additional support and State Farm® is ready to provide it. For over three years, we have partnered with the American Cancer Society to offer the Quit For Life® program. This tobacco cessation program helps smokers identify and avoid the things that make them want to light up. In addition, it re-trains them on how to enjoy a trigger again without wanting to smoke a cigarette.
The Quit For Life® program has helped over 1 million people beat their cravings with immediate results such as:
- Better smelling breath, hair and clothes
- Improved taste of food and returned sense of smell
- Whiter teeth and the disappearance of yellow fingers and fingernails
- Decreased blood pressure and heart rate
- Increased ease of accomplishing physical activity
According to the American Cancer Society, the health benefits over time are even more rewarding to a person who is able to stay quit. One year after quitting, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s risk. Five years after quitting, the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder are cut in half. Beyond ten years of quitting, the risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. And after fifteen years, the risk of coronary heart disease is equal to a non-smoker's risk.
These are only some of the advantages of quitting smoking for good. Staying quit also lowers the risk of diabetes, allows blood vessels to work better and helps the heart and lungs. Quitting at a younger age will reduce health risks even more, but quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke.
Tackle Your Triggers
If you are a smoker or tobacco user, I encourage you to identify and tackle your triggers. And if you are eligible, be sure to participate in the Wellness Assessment and team up with SFLiveWell.com to help you on your path to quit. The Wellness Assessment will provide you immediate feedback which can help you address your overall health, including a focus on becoming tobacco-free.
Encouraging you to Live Well, Be Well and stay quit.
If you can quit tobacco for a day, you can quit for life. Get ready to quit on November 17 – the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout®.
See how quitting smoking can add up to cost savings for you by using the American Cancer Society’s calculator.
Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for additional resources on quitting smoking.
Let the American Heart Association teach you about the effects of cigarette smoking on your cardiovascular system.
Learn more about tobacco control advocacy at the federal and local level supported by the American Lung Association.