In the United States alone, cigarette smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke is responsible for about 480,000 premature deaths a year including deaths from cancer, heart disease, stroke and other forms of lung disease. Those who smoke are about three times more likely to die prematurely than those who do not smoke.
So why do people still smoke? Tobacco naturally contains nicotine, a highly addictive substance that affects the pleasure and reward centers in an individual’s brain. The addictive potential of nicotine has been compared to that of heroin or cocaine. Simply put, smoking is emotionally and physically addictive and it’s extremely challenging to quit.
The good news is that quitting can significantly reduce the risk of premature death from smoking related conditions. There are many options available now for people who want to quit smoking. It doesn’t mean it will be easy, but help is available. Some behavioral interventions to help quit smoking include: cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and mindfulness training. Technology often plays a role in these therapies by offering text messaging, web-based, and social media support. Medications are also used to help individuals quit smoking. Nicotine replacement therapy, some antidepressants, and other medications have been an effective part of treatment plans. Researchers are searching for ways to personalize treatments based on individual biological and genetic differences.
All states have a toll-free quit line where counselors are available to help find the support needed to quit: 800-QUIT-NOW or 800-784-8669.