Tobacco Free Florida Week: Team Up to Quit

Team_Up Team Up to Quit is the 2014 theme of the 6th annual Tobacco Free Florida Week April 21-27 currently in progress.  It encourages tobacco users to partner with their doctor as those who do are more successful in their quit attempts.  While everyone should know that tobacco is bad for your health, here some reasons why now is a good time to have that conversation.

Did you know smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in the body?  Smoking doesn’t just affect the lungs, it affects the entire body, including the heart, circulatory system, respiratory system, digestive system, and reproductive systems of both men and women.   And if you get cancer, did you also know smoking may keep cancer treatments from working as well as they should?

Did you know that smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD)?  Even a person smoking fewer than 5 cigarettes a day can show signs of early stages of this disease. The more cigarettes and the longer you smoke, the greater the risk.  CVD includes narrow or blocked arteries in and around the heart (coronary heart disease), high blood pressure, heart attack, and heart-related chest pain (angina).  Did you know that exposure to secondhand smoke can cause these same diseases in non-smokers?

Did you know smoking causes peripheral arterial disease (PAD) or peripheral vascular disease (PVD) by narrowing blood vessels and reducing the flow of blood?   According to the American College of Cardiologists, “the risk of developing the disease is as much as three times higher for people who smoke as that of non-smokers.” People with PAD or PVD may have pain when they walk and the cells can die from a lack of oxygen if left untreated.  Gangrene could then develop in fingers and toes and the infected body part will have to be removed.  It appears that non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke are also at an increased risk for PAD.  A Chinese study on women found “a 67% increased risk of PAD in those exposed to secondhand smoke compared to those who were not exposed.”

Did you know smoking can cause coronary heart disease, stroke or abdominal aortic aneurysm?   Chemicals in cigarette smoke causes some of the oxygen in the blood to be replaced with carbon monoxide which causes the blood to thicken and form clots inside veins and arteries.   Smoking also promotes the formation of plaque in the walls of arteries and clots can form where there is plaque.  If the arteries are already narrowed from smoking, these clots can block the arteries, and oxygen to nearby organs is cut off.  This blockage can lead to a heart attack and sudden death.  Strokes can happen when arteries that carry blood to the brain become blocked from a narrowing or a clot causing the blood vessel to leak or burst inside the brain.  Smoking is a known cause of early hardening of the abdominal aorta which supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis and legs.  If a rupture happens, it causes life-threatening bleeding.  Almost all deaths from abdominal aortic aneurysm are caused by smoking and other tobacco use.  Women smokers have a higher risk of dying from this than men. diabetesDid you know that smoking causes type 2 diabetes?  If you smoke, you are 30% to 40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers.  Smokers are likely to have more trouble regulating insulin and controlling the disease.  According to the Philip Morris website, the third ingredient in Marlboro cigarettes by weight is…SUGAR, including sucrose and/or invert sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup.  Did you know smokeless tobacco also contains high amounts of sugar added to make the product taste good? Did you know, according to the 2012 Surgeon General report “Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults,” that tobacco use is a pediatric epidemic, not only in the U.S. but around the world?   Did you know that “school based programs with specific components, can produce at least short-term effects and reduce the prevalence of tobacco use among school-aged youth?”  Did you know that “early signs of heart disease and stroke can be found in adolescents who smoke?”  Did you know that children and teens “who smoke 2 or 3 cigarettes a day can get hooked in as short as two weeks?”  Did you know children and teens who smoke are more likely to develop asthma, have reduced lung function and impaired lung growth?   Disease caused by smoking is not just for older smokers. Did you know that the benefits of quitting smoking start almost immediately?  Within one year, “the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s.”  Within five years “risks of certain cancers are cut in half.”  Stroke risk can equal that of a non-smoker after 2-5 years of quitting.  After 15 years of quitting “the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.” Did you make the appointment with your doctor yet?  What are you waiting for?

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