Breaking a bad habit is difficult, no matter what is. But when it comes to smoking, you’re putting your health at risk with every additional minute, hour, and day that you delay putting out your last cigarette.
“Most people associate smoking with breathing problems and lung cancer, but there are a number of other health problems that come as a result of tobacco use,” says Alicia McKelvey, MD, thoracic surgeon at Main Line HealthCare Thoracic Surgery, located at Paoli Hospital.
In addition to its role as a major contributor to lung cancer, smoking can also increase your risk for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and other types of cancer, including that of the mouth and throat. Recently, a New England Journal of Medicine study found that smokers lose an average of at 10 years off of their life, compared to their non-smoking counterparts.
Of course, as most smokers can agree, quitting isn’t easy. When smoking has been a part of your life—whether it’s for a short time or many years—it’s difficult to turn your back on the habit altogether, even when the benefits are so clear.
“Quitting isn’t easy, and some say it is harder getting over a heroin addiction,” says Dr. McKelvey. "There are many different options for help with smoking cessation. There are options line nicotine patches, pills, group counseling, hypnosis etc. You just have to find the one that works the best for you.”
Thanks to the emergence of smartphone apps and new technology, you can even hold yourself accountable with daily reminders of your commitment to quitting. Websites like smokefree.gov offers daily text messages to encourage you during your journey to quit.
In your journey to quit, remember that you are not alone. Main Line Health offers a series of six-week smoking cessation classes at its hospitals where you can meet other participants and leaders who can offer support and advice. Visit our website to register for an upcoming smoking cessation class.