This is not a news flash but quitting smoking is incredibly difficult.
If you need an excuse to collectively throw out your cigarettes, today is the day.
It’s the 43rd annual Great American Smokeout, a day sponsored by the American Cancer Society to help smokers quit.
It is Lahey Health‘s 11th year participating and our quit line will be staffed with tobacco treatment specialists from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., ready to help anyone who calls. The number is 781-744-QUIT (7848).
“Quitting tobacco use is one of the hardest things someone can do,” said Eleana Conway, a nurse practitioner who manages Lahey Health’s Health Improvement Program and comprehensive and free tobacco treatment program. “We’re here to help in a non-judgmental and compassionate way.”
People who use tobacco know how important it is to quit; that’s not the issue.
Becoming tobacco free is where the challenge lies, Conway explained.
“Nicotine dependence is one of the hardest addictions to beat,” she said, adding that roughly 50 percent of smokers regard quitting as “very hard” or “nearly impossible.”
“Yet 80 percent will rally to make multiple quit attempts over their lifetime,” Conway said. “This is a very resilient group.”
The smoking cessation program at Lahey Health offer programs with individual and group coaching, education and support to assist in the difficulties of quitting.
There are more avenues of support for those looking to quit.
Apps such as Craving to Quit!, Smoke Free-Quit Smoking Now, and Quit Now offer users an online social network of people going through the same thing. The apps record data on how much money one has saved by abstaining from buying packs of cigarettes.
One device that has been inappropriately marketed as a tool to quit is e-cigarettes. The data remains unclear on the device’s potential to aid in cessation.
“While e-cigarettes have the potential to benefit some people and harm others, we still have a lot to learn about whether e-cigarettes are effective for quitting smoking and we need to better understand their potential long-term health effects,” Conway said. “For example, we know that some e-cigarettes have cancer-causing chemicals in them- clearly not good to inhale into your lungs. Additional research is needed.”
There are seven US Food and Drug Administration-approved methods, including the patch, to help with smoking cessation.
The Great American Smokeout is an annual day of awareness and dialogue.
“The Great American Smokeout is not a day against tobacco users,” Conway said. “It’s a day that encourages tobacco users to take an important step toward a healthier life and reducing cancer risk. It is hard work but worth it.”
Quitting smoking isn’t easy.
“It takes time, and a plan, Conway said. You don’t have to stop smoking in one day. Start with day one.”