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October 21, 2009 > Want to Quit Smoking for Good?

Want to Quit Smoking for Good?

Washington Hospital Workshop Will Show You How

Are you ready to quit smoking? Have you tried before? It doesn't matter how many times you have tried to quit smoking, it's never too late to give it up for good.

"It often takes smokers many attempts before they can finally quit for good," said Dr. Jason Chu, a pulmonologist at Washington Hospital who will talk about the dangers of smoking and the health benefits of quitting at an upcoming Stop Smoking Workshop. "It's never too late to realize significant health benefits when you quit smoking."

He will join Deborah Garcia, RN, Health Promotion manager at Washington Hospital who will give participants tips for quitting, for the Stop Smoking Workshop on Monday, November 2, from 12 to 3 p.m., at the Conrad E. Anderson, MD Auditorium at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, in Fremont. To register, call (800) 963-7070.

"I will paint a picture that is very negative because there is nothing positive about smoking," Chu said. "There is no health benefit to smoking, no redeeming value, just many ill effects. It is the number one preventable cause of death and disease in this country."

In fact, tobacco use is responsible for more deaths than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"You add all those up and it's still below the number of fatalities due to cigarette smoking," Chu said. "Smoking causes lung disease, many forms of cancer, not just lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, dental problems and gum disease, miscarriages, poor wound healing, and the list goes on. It's just bad all the way around."


It's Not Too Late for Health Benefits

But it's never too late to quit, according to Chu. "I'll explain how your risk for disease drops significantly when you quit. This is an important message. For example, your risk for lung cancer is reduced by 50 percent after 10 years. For heart disease, your risk is reduced by 100 percent after 10 years. So 10 years after quitting, it's as if you never smoked when it comes to your risk for heart disease," he said.

Smokers are up against a tough opponent when it comes to nicotine, Chu added. "Nicotine is a very addictive drug," he said. "Smokers are fighting an uphill battle because the dopamine receptors in the brain are begging to be stimulated by the nicotine."

Chu said there are a number of medications available, including nicotine replacement therapy and other medications that inhibit the dopamine receptors in the brain and reduce cravings. Anyone planning to attend the workshop should visit their healthcare provider before November 2 to talk about medications that might help.

Garcia, a certified quit-smoking facilitator, will take participants through a four-phase process for quitting that includes:
Preparing to Quit

The best way to prepare is by creating a solid plan for quitting, according to Garcia. She will guide participants in developing their own individual plan that includes the reasons they are quitting and steps they will take to quit.
Choosing a Quit Day

Everybody is different, Garcia said. Some will quit cold turkey, while others want to cut back slowly, smoking fewer cigarettes each day. An important part of the plan is choosing the day you will actually quit, she said.


Coping with Withdrawal

Garcia will provide tips for dealing with the ill effects of withdrawing from nicotine. She will explain the different medications available to help reduce the effects of withdrawal so you can concentrate on quitting.


Fighting Flips and Relapses

Staying quit is a difficult challenge for most ex-smokers, according to Garcia. She will offer tips for avoiding relapses, including reminding yourself why you quit, calling a friend, and focusing on healthy habits like exercising and eating right. If you do relapse, set a new quit date, go back to your plan, and start over, she said.

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.

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