by Kristin Badenhorst, PA-C, Main Street Clinic
Most people know that smoking is bad for your health — especially your lungs — and that it increases the risk for COPD, lung cancer and asthma. What people may not know, is that even smoking an amount as small as one cigarette daily also increases the risk for other diseases such as stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, bladder cancer, peptic ulcers, and even erectile dysfunction.
Different forms of tobacco aren’t necessarily safer … just different. Chewing tobacco increases your risk for head and neck cancer. The long-term effects of vaping have not been well studied, but it has been associated with lung injury and pneumonia.
With the Great American Smokeout approaching on Thursday, November 19, 2020, it is a great time to quit tobacco! If you are ready, but need additional guidance or resources, the team at Main Street Clinic is here to help you.
Before I began working in health care, I smoked for several years. Ironically, it wasn’t my concern for my health that motivated me to quit. It was the feeling that I was disappointing my loved ones. My parents each lost a parent to lung cancer. I didn’t want them to have to worry about me too. With the help of an employer-sponsored plan, I set a date and quit. I used various other resources to help me be successful. And I was — I have been smoke-free for about 14 years now. So, I know that quitting is difficult. I also know it’s worth it!
First, be committed to your decision.
Pick a date to quit and surround yourself — well in advance — with supportive people and plans for those less-than-strong moments.
Think about what worked if you have had previous quit attempts, and what didn’t.
Know your weaknesses and have a plan to overcome them.
Be prepared for withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, irritability, and restlessness.
Then, prior to your quit date, meet with a healthcare provider and acquire the tools to help you be successful.
The most important part? Just take the first step. During the week of the Great American Smokeout, November 16 through 20, stop in to pick up a free Quit Kit while supplies last at Main Street Clinic, 107 W. 4th Street (corner of 4th and Main) in downtown Winona.
And after that, you can plan to take your next step. We’re here to help. Learn more at mainstreetclinicmn.org.