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This breakup is good for the heart

Jan 16, 2012
Breaking up is hard to do, but it may be the best thing you ever do for your heart and the hearts of those you love.

Breaking up is hard to do, but it may be the best thing you ever do for your heart and the hearts of those you love.

I am talking about breaking your dependence on tobacco products. Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death and disease in this country. Every year we lose more than 36,000 family, friends and neighbours to tobacco- related illnesses. 

I’m not suggesting you rush into quitting this week and try to end your dependence on tobacco cold turkey. If you do, it’s likely that you won’t be successful. That’s because quitting is a process that takes time, motivation, support and often multiple attempts.

Instead, start to plan your quit attempt now. Picture yourself tobacco free. Think of the benefits – your health will improve, you’ll have more money in your pocket and you’ll be setting a great example for your children and loved ones.

Think about how you will deal with the cravings that are going to come in the first few weeks. There are quit smoking medications available that can help you manage the cravings. Research by the Ontario Medical Association shows that the use of smoking cessation tools approximately doubles your chance of quitting smoking.

These tools include nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) ranging from gum, the patch, inhaler, lozenges and prescription drugs such as Zyban and Champix. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to find out what might work best for you. Some drug plans cover cessation products, so check to see if you have coverage.

The next step is to set a quit date. Start preparing by cutting down on your tobacco use. Put off the first cigarette of the day. Take a walk at coffee breaks. Have practice quit days and change up your routines to break the habits that you relate to using tobacco. Take note of the times when it is toughest to stay tobacco free and then plan how you can overcome them on your next attempt.

It’s also important to have family and friends who can lend support to help you quit. They can help you stay on track and work through the tough times. Smokers’ Helpline, a telephone and web-based cessation service offered by the Canadian Cancer Society, can also help you with one-to-one counseling and even text messaging support.

Use the Driven to Quit Challenge as an incentive to help you stay on track. You might just win a new car, vacation getaway or cash prizes. Register anytime before February 29 at www.driventoquit.ca. Everyone who remains tobacco free for the month of March qualifies for the draw prizes.

There is no doubt that breaking up is hard to do, but thousands of people quit using tobacco products every year. Data collected through ongoing surveying of Simcoe Muskoka adults shows there are now more residents who have quit smoking than there are residents who smoke in our region. Many have had to make multiple quit attempts before being able to quit for good. But what they all have in common is that they didn’t quit quitting.

So in 2012 do something great for your heart – break up with tobacco. You’ll love the new healthier you. For more information and support to help you quit, visit www.simcoemuskokahealth.org or call the Smokers’ Helpline at 1-877-513-5333.

 

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Dr. Gardner is Simcoe Muskoka’s medical officer of health.


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