Kicking the habit for the Great American Smokeout and beyond
Caption: Jennifer Bartlett, RN – Certified Smoking Cessation Facilitator
Presque Isle, Maine (November 14, 2023) — With the annual Great American Smokeout taking place this Thursday, November 16, Northern Light Health AR Gould Hospital is taking this opportunity to help support the message of quitting smoking – or even better, never starting. It is one of the best things you can do for your health.
Did you know that within 20 minutes of quitting smoking, your heart rate begins to normalize and carbon monoxide levels begin to drop? Smoking has several consequences on your health. It puts you at risk for developing lung cancer, it increases your risk of a heart attack, and much more.
“Although there are many reasons to quit smoking, your health must be your number one concern. Successfully quitting smoking requires treatment, monitoring, lifestyle changes, and, most importantly, support,” says Jennifer Bartlett, RN, Certified Smoking Cessation Facilitator in AR Gould’s Pulmonology Clinic. “Everyone is unique and requires a personalized treatment plan, so they are successful in their journey to quit smoking.”
There are several options available to help people in this journey. Sometimes nicotine replacement in the form of a patch or gum can be a solution, but there are other ways as well.
“When I see patients, I do one-on-one counseling with them. I work closely to help build a framework to help Identify triggers and teach people coping skills as they move along in their journey to being smoke free,” Bartlett explains. “Sometimes what that treatment can look like is finding hobbies to keep their hands busy, or we look at ways to reduce stress in their lives to help them fight the urge to have a cigarette.”
She also warns about the concern of using vaping as an alternative to smoking, which has been become increasingly popular in recent years. While it is often seen as a less dangerous habit, it is highly addictive, and its long-term impact is yet to be fully understood. Recent research has linked vaping to increased risk of lung disease and cardiovascular disease.
Bartlett points out that if people aren’t ready to give up smoking or vaping for their own health, they should think of the health of others, especially for their children.
“Secondhand smoke from either regular cigarettes or e-cigarettes can be as bad as smoking. Children who are exposed to this can develop chronic respiratory infections, diseases such as asthma, and be at risk of developing chronic diseases like COPD later in life,” says Bartlett.
“Also, children look up to their parents and oftentimes follow what they do. So, if their parents smoke or vape, they may think it’s okay to pick up the habit as well. This is particularly concerning with vaping, since the draw of flavored products is drawing in younger users.” According to the CDC, 2.5 million youth reported e-cigarette use in 2022.
Bartlett encourages people to start their smoke-free journey this Thursday.
“I will be at the Pinkham Entrance at AR Gould with information and resources for people who are interested in quitting smoking. This day is a great way to start day one of being smoke-free. You can also participate if you don’t smoke. Pledge to give up something else for the day, like chocolate or soda, both as a show of support and as a way to start being healthier yourself.”
Other community resources that can support smokers looking to kick the habit include: the Aroostook County Action Program; Maine QuitLink at 1-800-QUIT-NOW; The Maine Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-207-1230; and MaineHealth Center for Tobacco. Independence.