Updated 12:10 p.m. Wednesday.
If you've been looking for a reason to quit smoking, let today be your day. May 31 the World Health Organization sponsors World No Tobacco Day to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco, and in Houston, MD Anderson’s Tobacco Treatment Program is on the front lines of the offensive.
Dr. Maher Karam-Hage, the program’s associate medical director, has clear recommendations for smokers looking to break the habit, his first choice being prescription medications including Chantix and Zyban. “If they have insurance they can go to their physician and get a prescription,” he recommends for those wanting to remove tobacco use from their lives. He also suggests the 1-800-QUIT NOW line for support, and making use of patches or nicotine-replacement gum or lozenges as needed.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services finds there are more former smokers in America than current smokers, so be encouraged by that. They quit and you can, too.
The third and most critical element of giving up cigarettes, Dr. Karam-Hage says, is psychological. “Most people want to quit, but don’t feel ready, or keep postpone quitting.” M.D. Anderson has developed tools to aid with the hurdles of breaking an addiction research claims is as powerful as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol. First off, reduce the number of cigarettes smoked daily, he advises. Set a date to quit, and notify friends and family of your plans, asking for support. Change or modify your habits most closely associated with smoking, and when the red letter day arrives, begin using the form of nicotine-replacement therapy your doctor advises may work best for you.
You might not succeed on this attempt. A 2016 study finds for some people it takes up to 30 attempts before they are finally able to walk away from tobacco for good. The health benefits, Dr. Karam-Hage advises, outweigh the difficulty. Keep trying. A first step, make today a no-tobacco day in your life.
You can get more information on the MD Anderson Tobacco treatment Program at 713-792-2265.