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Now is the Time to Quit Smoking

Smoking, or using other tobacco products, can lead to serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, emphysema, cancer, other serious diseases and possibly even death. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a variety of smoking cessation products. These include prescription medicines and over-the-counter products such as skin patches, gum and other medications. These products can be prescribed by a physician and can be effective with reducing the desire to smoke.

Story by Jason Bortz

Naval Hospital Pensacola

According to the American Lung Association, almost half a million people in America die from tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.

Smoking, or using other tobacco products, can lead to serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, emphysema, cancer, other serious diseases and possibly even death.

Quitting is not easy and at times may seem like an impossible task. Fortunately, success is possible and there are resources available through Naval Hospital Pensacola and its branch clinics.

“We are here to help anyone who wants to quit using tobacco products,” said James Sherrard, department head for NHP’s Health Promotions and Wellness Department. “Quitting is easier said than done, luckily there are plenty of tools and proven methods available to help.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a variety of smoking cessation products. These include prescription medicines and over-the-counter products such as skin patches, gum and other medications. These products can be prescribed by a physician and can be effective with reducing the desire to smoke.

Because quitting tobacco products can be difficult, support from groups or a health care professional can be very beneficial. NHP offers a Tobacco Cessation Program that covers the many different options available to assist individuals with trying to quit. The four week program is available for all TRICARE beneficiaries and can be either an individual appointment at the Health Promotion and Wellness Department or as a group setting in NHP’s Mental Health Department.

“Any unpleasant habit can be hard to break,” said Lt. Grace Hamelberg, a clinical psychologist at NHP, “but nicotine is very addictive.” “Smoking also has a social aspect that can make quitting difficult, but with the right plan and support, it is possible.”

Quitting cigarettes have almost immediate health benefits that only approve over time. With 20 minutes of quitting, a person’s heart rate and blood pressure will drop. Within a few months, coughing and shortness of breath will decrease and within one year the risk of a heart attack drops dramatically.

“Despite all the tools available to help people stop tobacco products, the chances of quitting rely heavily on the individual’s desire to quit,” said Sherrard. “Having a support network of family, friends and health care professionals can significantly help individuals who are trying to quit.”

A recent trend with people trying to avoid some of the hazards of smoking cigarettes is the electronic cigarette. According to www.fda.gov, the safety of electronic cigarettes has not been fully studied. Consumers of electronic cigarette products currently have no way of knowing whether electronic cigarettes are safe for their intended use, how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are being inhaled during use or if there are any benefits associated with using these products. Additionally, the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) has banned the use of electronic cigarettes at all BUMED facilities, such as NHP, which parallels its policy on regular tobacco products.

Quitting cigarettes or smokeless tobacco is not easy, but there are many tools and medications available to assist with the process. Talk to a physician today or contact the Mental Health Department at (850) 505-6749 or the Health Promotions and Wellness Department at (850) 505-7243 to get started on the path to quitting.

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