Smoke that bad habit |

Smoke that bad habit

Dr. Drew Werner

EAGLE COUNTY – It’s amazing that another year has passed and a new year has begun. For some it is a time for new beginnings, fresh starts, the dawning of exciting opportunities. For others it is a time to reflect on what has been. The past can be put behind, or brought forward to hope for even better things to come. Perhaps best is to cut and paste. Like the computer I’m writing this on, why not “Ctrl-Alt-Del” the bad and “File-Save As” the good we want to bring forward with us to an exciting new year?Dear Doc: With New Year’s coming, I’ve really made up my mind to quit smoking. I’ve tried before, but it never lasts. Is there anything else I can do that will help?- Getting Desperate in MinturnDear Desperate: Congratulations first on the most important health decision you can make. Few smokers can do it to their own, most need help. Fortunately help is out there. Before we get to that I’d like to share some alarming and even frightening facts about smoking.Did you know that:– Half of all teenagers who are currently smoking will die from diseases caused by tobacco if they continue to smoke. one quarter of them will die before 70 years of age, losing on average 21 years of life.– Worldwide, between 80,000 and 100,000 children start smoking every day.– It is estimated that at least 4.5 million U.S. adolescents are cigarette smokers. — Approximately 90 percent of smokers begin smoking before the age of 21. — In the United States, an estimated 25.6 million men (25.2 percent) and 22.6 million women (20.7 percent) are smokers. These people are at higher risk of heart attack and stroke, cancer and over fifty other preventable diseases.– Half of long-term smokers will die from tobacco. Every cigarette smoked cuts at least five minutes of life on average – about the time it takes to smoke it. — Smoking is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death. — Tobacco use remains the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. — More than 440,000 Americans die each year from tobacco-related disease.– Someone dies from smoking every 72 seconds.– Smoking causes more deaths than alcohol, AIDS, illegal drugs, car crashes, fires, murders, and suicides combined.– Smokers get sick more often.– 29 percent of smokers had difficulty sleeping, compared with only 3 percent of the general population. — 28 percent of smokers suffer sinus congestion/headaches regularly, compared with only 8 percent of the non-smokers. — 33 percent of smokers have abnormally high blood pressure, compared with only 15 percent of the non-smokers. — 28 percent of smokers suffer colds and cough regularly, compared with only 7 percent of the non-smokers. — 21 percent of smokers suffer migraine headaches, compared with only 4 percent of the non-smokers. — 34 percent of smokers suffer disabling fatigue, compared with only 2 percent of the non-smokers.Scary stuff, isn’t it? The most difficult part of quitting smoking is making the decision to truly do it. No, I don’t mean the “OK I guess I should,” or the “I’ll try” or even the “I’ll quit so you won’t nag me anymore.” I mean the “I am going to quit now and forever and become a nonsmoker.”The next thing to do is make lifestyle changes. Think and act like a non-smoker. Change your habits, such as getting away from the table after meals. Sit in the non-smoking section of the restaurant, take a walk when the craving comes on, pop a toothpick, Tic Tac or piece of gum in your mouth to satisfy that oral fix. Schedule regular stress breaks – that’s what a cigarette break really is. Just don’t smoke! Walk to the drinking fountain, play a quick game on the PC, put a piece in a puzzle set aside just for that. Be creative.There are a variety of over-the-counter products to help change habits, calm the addiction and focus on something other than the best friend (I mean cigarettes) you’ve just given up. The most effective medications come in two flavors. There are a variety of nicotine replacement products and Zyban. The nicotine patches increase your chances of quitting to 30 percent or more. The gum is especially good for people who chew tobacco. It is used by parking (like chew) between the cheek and gum and chewing it after the nicotine flavor disappears. There are nicotine inhalers, which work well for those with a need to keep the hands busy. With all of the nicotine replacement products, it is important to stop smoking before using them. Smoking in addition to taking some form of nicotine can actually lead to an overdose. Finally there is Zyban. It is actually the same medication as the anti-depressant Wellbutrin. It helps reduce stress and relieves the nicotine triggers in the brain. People who use it have a 40 percent greater chance of quitting than “going it alone.” Talk to our doctor to decide which is best for you.No matter what, make a commitment to change. If you don’t smoke, get exercising or lose weight. We can all get healthier. Many of you have probably read about Harald Fricker, our newest local celebrity. Harald has been selected from 6,000 applicants as one of five people chosen to make a major health life change in CNN’s “A New You Revolution” ( then go to health, then “New You Revolution”). He is working with me and Joel Weinstein, a certified personal trainer and spin instructor, as well as a master trainer at the Allegria Spa in Beaver Creek to lose 90 pounds and get back into his prior competitive running shape. His work is cut out for him, but his motivation is there! What is the most important is that like Harald, each of us can make a change too.Joel will be contributing to my article next week on his perspective regarding making healthy life changes and getting motivated to do that! Until then, get ready to get healthy and make that New Year’s resolution for a healthy change.Happy New Year!Dr. Drew Werner of the Eagle Valley Medical Center writes a weekly column for the Daily. He encourages health questions. Write him by e-mail to or c/o Editor, Vail Daily, P.O. Box 81, Vail, 81658.Vail, Colorado

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