WOMEN AND SMOKING CESSATION FAQs

Why should I quit?
   There are many good reasons to quit smoking and each smoker must decide which are important. A few to consider: you will likely live longer with fewer health problems; the people you live with, especially your children will have fewer health problems; you will have more energy and breathe easier; you will have more time; you will have more money; your risk of cancer, lung disease, heart attack and stroke will be significantly reduced; you will gain self respect by overcoming a harmful addiction.

What are the statistics?
Women who smoke are twice as likely to die prematurely as those that don't.
Women exposed to second-hand smoke also have a greater risk of premature death.
In 1987, lung cancer surpassed breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths among women.
90% of lung cancer deaths are directly attributable to smoking.
Women who smoke have a significantly greater risk for cervical, pharyngeal, bladder and pancreatic cancers.
Women who smoke have a significantly increased risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), coronary heart disease, peripheral vascular disease and acute cerebral syndrome.

Why is it so hard to quit?
   Nicotine is ten times more addictive than heroin. In addition, the habits we form with smoking are very difficult to break. Because people are physically and mentally different, some will need multiple attempts or different methods to successfully quit smoking.

Why is smoking more dangerous than breathing the other things we are exposed to everyday?
   We are subjected to many potentially harmful substances everyday such as; car exhaust, dust, allergens and factory emissions to name a few. Unfortunately, cigarettes expose you to many harmful substances that you would not normally breathe, including; acetone, formaldehyde, cadmium, arsenic, phenol, along with approximately 4,000 other chemicals.
   Another problem is that nicotine paralyzes the cilia in the lungs, which is one of the most important defenses against the harmful substances that we breathe. For every cigarette that you smoke the cilia is paralyzed for 20 minutes, if you smoke a pack a day this means that your pulmonary defenses are impaired for more than 6 hours of the day. This allows those harmful substances to damage the lung tissue. Once lung tissue is destroyed, it is forever lost.

What will happen when I quit smoking?
   Initially you may feel worse and cough up extra phlegm, this is normal as your lungs are trying to clean themselves. There are benefits within the first 24 hours, including lower blood pressure and heart rate, increased blood oxygen and a decreased risk for heart attack. Within a year of quitting your risk of heart attack decreases to half that of a smoker. Five years after quitting your chances of stroke are the same as someone who has never smoked. At fifteen years your risk of premature death will be that of someone who has not smoked.

How can I quit?
   Here are some suggestions to help make your decision to quit smoking a successful one:
Set a quit date and stick to it - not even a single puff!
Think about past attempts at quitting. What worked and what did not?
Tell your family, friends, and coworkers you are quitting and ask them to support you.
Consider group, individual or telephone counseling.
When you first try to quit, change your routine.
Reduce stress.
Distract yourself from urges to smoke.
Plan something enjoyable to do everyday.
Drink lots of water and other fluids.

Are there medications that will help?
   Talk to your doctor about which medication will work best for you, including those that do not require a prescription. Here are medications that have shown promise:
Bupropion SR - by prescription, should be started before your quit date.
Nicotine gum - over the counter.
Nicotine inhaler - by prescription.
Nicotine nasal spray - prescription.
Nicotine patch - over the counter.
New drugs are introduced into the market regularly.

How can I handle relapses or difficult situations?
Avoid alcohol.
Be careful around other smokers.
Improve your mood in ways other than smoking.
Eat healthy diet and stay active.
Don't give up if you smoke one cigarette, keep trying.

WNH Services
Family and internal medicine specialists
Respiratory Services teaching and treatment
Pulmonary testing
Lung disease advocacy group

Resources
American Lung Association
American Heart Association
Surgeon General
Centers for Disease Control