Lose weight. Eat healthier. Quit tobacco. These are just some New Year’s resolutions that you may have set for 2023. According to the American Cancer Society, about two out of three people who smoke say they want to quit and half of those try each year, but few succeed without help. But experts at Baylor Medicine’s Tobacco Cessation Program want to increase your odds of quitting.
“Studies show that a combination of behavioral support and drug therapy produces higher smoking quit rates than either treatment alone,” says Subin Valayil, a tobacco treatment specialist and instructor in the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. “So our Tobacco Cessation Program here in the Division of Thoracic Surgery offers patients this combination approach.”
Because nicotine is so addictive, it is important to have both behavioral support and medical help. People who have used tobacco regularly for a few weeks or longer will have withdrawal symptoms that can be decreased with FDA-approved medications.
As part of the Tobacco Cessation Program, treatment specialists meet with the patient to evaluate tobacco use, answer questions they have and then evaluate the related factors that may trigger or influence tobacco use. In tandem with the patient, they create a detailed plan for treatment and quitting. The patient will then have follow-up visits either in person or virtually for support and to monitor medicine effects and track progress.
Some behavioral approaches are helpful in the journey to quitting smoking.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps patients identify triggers – the people, places and things that increase the behavior – and teaches them relaxation techniques or coping strategies to avoid smoking.
Research shows that CBT and mindfulness-based interventions may help someone quit smoking. Mindfulness-based interventions help an individual increase their awareness of their thoughts, emotions, environment and physical sensations related to a craving. Research shows mindfulness-based interventions are effective quit smoking treatments.
The treatment specialists will also help you identify the main reasons you want to quit. Posting these reasons on sticky notes or around places you may be tempted to light up can be helpful.
There are many reasons to quit smoking including your health, wallet, convenience and family.
Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. and people who smoke die about 10 years earlier than people who have never smoked. Along with causing cancer, smoking can cause several other diseases and can damage every organ in the body including mouth, skin, eyes, bones, lungs, heart and blood vessels.
You probably already are aware, but it’s expensive to smoke cigarettes. Smoking a pack per day that costs $5 adds up to $1,825 per year.
Standing in the heat, cold or rain to smoke is a hassle. Quitting would allow you to choose when you want to go outside instead of when you need to.
Secondhand smoke is dangerous and harmful, especially to young children. Studies show that children who live with smokers get more ear infections and chest colds.
The good news is insurance will cover tobacco cessation counseling. To schedule an appointment with the Tobacco Cessation Program, call 713-798-6376.
By Tiffany Harston, communications associate in the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine