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Healthy You

Quit Smoking - Breaking the Habit for Good

February 26, 2013 1:00 PM with Shannon Gavin

Do you plan to quit smoking this year? Have you tried to quit before without success? Join Shannon Gavin, Pharmacist at the NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center, as she answers your questions about smoking cessation. Learn more about the health benefits of quitting, medications that can help you quit and tips for staying strong and smoke-free. Submit your early questions today.

Angela (Moderator) - 12:50 PM:
Welcome! Today’s chat: Quit Smoking – Breaking the Habit for Good will begin shortly. Please start submitting your questions and Shannon Gavin, Pharmacist at NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center will begin answering them as soon as we get started. While you are waiting for the chat to begin, feel free to visit our Lung Cancer page on our website. We will do our best to answer all of your questions, but because this is such a popular chat, the physician may not be able to answer all of your questions in the time allowed. Your understanding is greatly appreciated.

  Alison (Evanston, IL) - 12:59 PM:
I’ve tried to quit smoking cold turkey at least five times and I just can’t seem to do it. I was hoping that I didn’t have to resort to medication, but I think that’s my only hope. Where would you recommend I start?
Shannon Gavin (NorthShore)
Hi Alison! Great question! Making the attempt to quit smoking is the first step! Many people are hesitant to use the nicotine replacement products and medications. However, using these products has been shown in studies to increase your chances of quitting smoking and to stay quit. The combination of using the products and getting help from a professional (ie. doctor or a tobacco treatment specialist) will give you the best chance.

  Joe (Lincolnwood, IL) - 1:06 PM:
I’ve been quit for 42 days and feel very down. I haven’t suffered from depression before, so I’m not sure how to best cope with my feelings. I really don’t want to break my streak, but I am starting to think that’s the only way to feel better.
Shannon Gavin (NorthShore)
Congrats on being quit for 42 days! You should be so proud of yourself! It is not uncommon for people who recently quit smoking to feel "down." When feeling this way and having the urge to reach for a cigarette, remind yourself of all the positives things that quitting smoking will do for you. There are numerous health benefits, such as improving your breathing, blood pressure, decreasing your risk of developing a cancer, improving smell and taste...I could go on and on! In addition, some people find it helpful to incorporate exercise in the daily life. Exercising helps release the "feel good" chemicals in your brain and cuts down your urges to smoke cigarettes.

  Daniel (Highland Park) - 1:15 PM:
My wife is planning to quit smoking, a habit she’s had since I met her 8 years ago come March 1. What can we expect both emotionally and physically by her quitting? How can I best support her when it gets tough?
Shannon Gavin (NorthShore)
Hi Daniel! Supporting your wife and being her "cheerleader" during her "quit smoking" process is key!! Everyone has different symptoms when they quit smoking. Some of the feelings that your wife might experience are anxiety, irritability, cravings, depression, difficultly concentrating, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, hunger, impatience, and restlessness. These are signs of nicotine withdrawal. As I mentioned before, I recommend using the nicotine replacement products to help reduce the signs/symptoms of withdrawal. If your wife if having a tough time, help remind her of the reasons she is quitting smoking.

  Annie (Chicago, IL) - 1:24 PM:
My father smoked at least a pack a day religiously for 17+ years. He hasn’t touched a cigarette now in over ten years. Will his body ever restore itself? Is he still at a higher risk for lung cancer?
Shannon Gavin (NorthShore)
Hi Annie! That is a great question! Your should be very proud of your father. The body is very resilent and there are benefits within minutes of quitting smoking. For example, within 20 minutes, the heart rate and blood pressure drop; after 2 weeks to 3 months, circulation and lung function improves; after 5 years, the stroke risk is that of a non-smoker; and after 10 years, the risk of dying from lung cancer is decreased to half that of a continuing smoker. With every minute, hour, day, week, month, and year, there is a benefit to quitting smoking!

  Stacy (Glenview) - 1:33 PM:
Both of my parents were heavy smokers throughout my childhood. Having been exposed to secondhand smoke for over 18 years, am I more likely to have health concerns? I don’t smoke, but still spend a lot of time around people who do (in their cars and homes).
Shannon Gavin (NorthShore)
Secondhand smoke is still dangerous and can be damaging to the body. Tobacco smoke is a mixture of over 4,000 chemicals and 60 known cancer causing chemicals(carcinogens). Even if you are not actually smoking a cigarette and you are just inhaling the smoke from a cigarette smoker around you, you are still exposed to these chemicals. Secondhand smoke may contribute to lung disease, heart disease, and cancer. It is best to avoid being around cigarette smoke when possible.

  d.h. (evanston) - 1:41 PM:
I’ve noticed that my college-aged daughter is a social smoker—mostly when she’s out and drinking. Is this a habit she’ll be able to break? Can it lead to addiction? I’m wondering how to best approach her on the topic.
Shannon Gavin (NorthShore)
Good question! I am sure it is tough watching your daughter do something that you disapprove of and that may harm her. Alcohol is a trigger for smoking. Smoking is different for everyone. There are people that may smoke 4 packs of cigarettes per day and can just quit and stay quit tomorrow. However, there people that only smoke on a occasion that have a difficult time quitting. The nicotine in cigarettes is an "addicting" drug. Being exposed to it can lead to becoming a heavier smoker. Nonetheless, your daughter can quit! However, she has to "want" to quit to be successful!

Angela (Moderator) - 1:50 PM:
Thank you everyone for your great participation. The chat will be ending in approximately 10 minutes. Please submit your final questions.

  Patty (Evanston) - 1:52 PM:
I am afraid if I quit smoking I will struggle with my weight again. What can I do to avoid this weight gain? Do some of the medications also increase the odds of weight gain?
Shannon Gavin (NorthShore)
It is common for one to gain some weight after quitting smoking. This usually will occur in the first few months. There are ways to avoid gaining weight. The key is to incorporate a healthier diet and exercise into your quit smoking plan. Adding an exercise regimen to your daily routine will help with burning calories and also decrease your withdrawal symptoms. The medications do not increase the odds of weight gain.

Angela (Moderator) - 1:59 PM:
Thank you for participating in our online chat today. An online transcript will be available shortly. To learn more about NorthShore’s Kellogg Cancer Center, visit our website.

This chat has ended.

Thank you very much for your participation.