Archive for Thursday, November 12, 2009

Great American Smokeout is Nov. 19; story wins award

Health reporter Karrey Britt receives an award from the American Cancer Society as presented by Stacie Schroeder and Josh Hanshaw Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009 in the News Center.

Health reporter Karrey Britt receives an award from the American Cancer Society as presented by Stacie Schroeder and Josh Hanshaw Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009 in the News Center.

November 12, 2009


Health reporter Karrey Britt wants to get you involved in her reporting. Follow along in our new health section.

The Great American Smokeout is Nov. 19. For smokers — like my parents — it’s very difficult to kick the habit.

Last year, I wrote about the financial side of nicotine addiction and it won an award from the American Cancer Society.

My parents know that they spend too much on the nasty habit, but still haven’t been able to quit. I have hope that they will quit someday.

Meanwhile, I hope my story convinced at least one person to quit smoking and start living a healthier life.

Researchers say that quitting smoking can increase life expectancy — smokers who quit at age 35 gain an average of eight years of life expectancy; those who quit at age 55 gain about five years; and even longterm smokers who quit at 65 gain three years.

If you have a tip on how to quit, please share.


gccs14r 8 years, 6 months ago

Give up caffeine and alcohol and stay away from people who smoke and places that permit smoking for several months. Every time you think about smoking, take several deep breaths, instead. Eventually, you'll be able to return to a normal life.

Karrey Britt 8 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for the tip gccs14r. How long did it take you to quit? Can you describe the difference in lifestyle?

mistygreen 8 years, 6 months ago

My husband was a long time 1.5 to 2 pack a day smoker. I had quit bugging him years ago to quit. In January 2007 he decided he was ready to try to quit yet again. The company I was working for at the time was on a huge stop smoking campaign. They provided smoking cessation materials, counseling, or prescriptions for free. My husband opted for the prescription Chantix. He followed the program for 6 weeks and by March 2007 he was smoke free. He had tried so many different methods in the past, I was skeptical, but come this March 2010, he will be smoke free for 3 years. Good luck to all that will try to quit. I never thought my husband would, but miracles can happen.

gccs14r 8 years, 6 months ago

When I quit, it was cold turkey. I went from a pack a day to zero. I think cold turkey is best, because otherwise your cells continue to expect regular delivery of nicotine and go through withdrawal over and over again. Stopping the other things removed some of the behavioral linkages to smoking, which also helped. After several months, I was able to go back to normal, but would get occasional twinges of desire to smoke. These became less frequent and less intense over time, but it was over a period of years. It was about seven years before I finally quit coughing up ashtray-flavored crud. Yum!

I quit over ten years ago, and while I don't have a desire to smoke when awake, I every once in awhile (every couple of years or so) smoke in a dream. I'm always angry about that while in the dream, because it was such a long struggle to quit and all it takes is one dose to undo all the work.

Karrey Britt 8 years, 6 months ago

mistygreen. Thanks for sharing your husband's story. It really gives me hope that my parents will be able to quit someday. Sounds like your company provided some great resources.

Karrey Britt 8 years, 6 months ago

gccs14r. Thanks for providing some insight on how difficult this habit can be to kick. I have friends who say the only way to do it is "cold turkey." I commend you for 10 years of being smoke free!

rubberband 8 years, 6 months ago

I gave up that ball and chain 10 years ago after smoking 1 1/2 to 2 packs a day for 20 years, and it was absolutely the BEST thing I have ever done. I feel so much better than I did when I smoked. When I smoked, it seemed I managed to pick up every cold and flu virus possible and always got much sicker than anyone else, having to see the doctor and be treated for bronchitis every time. I coughed my brains out. Now I almost never get sick. I haven't been treated for bronchitis (or any other illness, for that matter) since shortly after I stopped smoking, within the first year. Not to mention, no more late night trips to the kwik shop because I'm out of smokes, no more lighting up on the stove burner because I can't find a lighter that works, no more holes in my clothes, furniture and car, no more nicotine fits because I'm in a non-smoking environment, no more going outside in the freezing cold to satisfy my habit, and my hair and clothes smell clean!

It wasn't easy by any means, but certainly worth the discomfort. My doctor prescribed Zyban (aka Wellbutrin) for me, which I took for about two months. That helped take the edge off enough that the cravings were manageable, so it was mostly the habit I had to deal with. It is a drug that is also used for depression and I would say it gave me a very subtle feeling of contentment, so not only was I able to do without cigarettes without going nuts, I actually drank less caffeine and ate less too. In the first month I allowed myself to "sneak" a smoke about once a week, but after that I was able to do without. While I think gccs is correct about going cold-turkey, I would also caution against having an "all or nothing" attitude. Slipping once or twice doesn't mean it's all over. I would say it was at least a year before the cravings really went away for the most part. I still have them every once in a while, but it is fleeting. And like gccs, I coughed up nasty crap for several years. In general, now I HATE being around cigarette smoke. I always swore I would never be an ex-smoker that harped on smokers about their smoking, but I have to admit, the longer I go without it myself, the more I hate the smell and the way it irritates my eyes and throat and makes me cough.

mistygreen 8 years, 6 months ago

Thanks Karrey - I'll keep my fingers crossed that one day your parents will see the light. Both of my parents smoked, and I must admit I am a former smoker myself. I quit because I am asthmatic. I should of never started in the first place and my smoking habit was not that bad. Less than one pack a week. So it was really no big deal for me to quit. Back to my Dad, he's been smoke free for over twenty years now. He was a hard core chain smoker that smoked as much as 5 packs a day. He was in the hospital for a week when they had just made the policy of no smoking in the hospital. The first thing he did when he got out to his truck was to light one up. Then he started coughing and choking and put it out and then and there decided that was the most disgusting he ever done. I must admit he did take up chewing (equally as disgusting) but he is now tabacco free.

Finally - applause to gccs14r and rubberband and their sucess at quiting smoking.

Karrey Britt 8 years, 6 months ago

To rubberband. Thanks for sharing your story. You are a true inspiration for others.

Karrey Britt 8 years, 6 months ago

mistygreen. Thanks for sharing your personal stories. My mom says she is finding inspiration from reading these comments. Fortunately, I have been a nonsmoker my entire life and love living in Lawrence where the restaurants and bars are smoke-free. Unfortunately, I have too many friends and family who smoke.

riverdrifter 8 years, 6 months ago

I quit a 1.5 pack-a-day habit 15 years ago. Marlboroughs. It was more iron will than cold turkey. Glad I did, considering the present-day price of a half-gallon of Crown Royal or a 5lb beef tenderloin. Sheesh, I can't do everything. Now it's time to go hunt the pheasant and there's the kicker -I'll outwalk and outhunt every puffer there. I've seen it before: they won't be able to keep up & will volunteer to 'block' on the roads.

Karrey Britt 8 years, 6 months ago

riverdrifter. Thanks for your comment. It made me laugh, especially the hunting part. I am glad you were able to kick the habit. Happy hunting.

flux 8 years, 6 months ago

I quit after 15 years using Chantix. That stuff works like magic

GetItRight 8 years, 6 months ago

I too quit using Chantix - however it is not for everyone. It can really, really mess with you. Vivid, strange dreams. Nausea. Forgetfulness - in fact it was really the forgetfulness and a will to do that got me to quit.

My insurance covered the first month of the prescription but refused to cover the remaining 2 months - so I was on my own. The day my insurance cut me off, I signed up for a 5K - with the goal to finish - run, walk or crawl. As we were running by one of the water/aid stations, a volunteer was smoking and blowing it at the runners. I have never wanted to smoke again. And now I run 5 days a week...hoping to run a half marathon next year.

I will agree it was the best thing I ever did, it was also the hardest thing I ever did. Pills won't do it for you - but Chantix, at least for 4 weeks, actually made me forget to take that smoke break!

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