Don't ignore the reality of tobacco use

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Don't ignore the reality of tobacco use

by: By Luis Martinez | .
U.S. Naval Hospital Guam | .
published: November 13, 2012

Most of us get a warm feeling when we think of our grandparents. That feeling would most likely change to apprehension or fear if we learned the amount of time they had left on this earth would be shortened by four years. We’d probably silently plead with whomever we believe to be a higher power to let them have those four more years to spend with us. What is sad is those four years represent the average amount of time pack-a-day smokers take away from how long they will be able to spend with their loved ones.

Unfortunately, some of us ignore this reality because tobacco use seems to be such a good friend. It seems to provide some degree of relief from stress and sometimes helps to deal with boredom. Yet, the temporary relief tobacco use provides masks the nasty stuff some of us don’t want to acknowledge as being part of our future: more days of sickness than non-smokers, increased chances for heart attacks, strokes, cancer, bronchitis, dental problems, etc.

The Great American Smokeout occurs Nov. 15 to call attention to these realities. It’s a day when tobacco users are asked to consider quitting for just one day in the hope that if it can be done for a day, maybe it can be done for longer-maybe forever.

U.S. Naval Hospital Guam wants to help tobacco users make this effort. We provide over-the-phone help, tobacco cessation classes, individual counseling and presentations to commands and other organizations. Our tobacco cessation program deals not only with the nagging that comes from the physical addiction to nicotine, but also with the conditioning to use tobacco caused by one’s habits and the reliance on tobacco use to meet emotional and social needs.

So seriously consider The Great American Smokeout challenge. Let go of that false friend for a day in exchange for a chance to enjoy, if you quit permanently: lung functioning increasing up to 30 percent within three months or less, less fatigue within one to nine months, excess risk of coronary heart disease dropping by half within a year, stroke risk reduced to that of a non-smoker within five to 15 years, lung cancer death rate dropping by half 10 years later and the risk of coronary heart disease being that of a non-smoker’s in 15 years.

Letting go of tobacco takes a commitment and work. But then, I remember my grandmother’s commitment and hard work into making the melt-in-your-mouth fresh bread.

Grandma didn’t smoke. She gave her family those extra years.

We might not know how to make fresh bread. But we can give those extra years to our families and friends. I’m glad Grandma did.

For more information on how to quit smoking, call USNH Guam at 344-9124.

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