Evelyn Smith, MA LCMHC, CTTS-M, is an EFAP Counselor & Tobacco Treatment Specialist at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

The Great American Smoke Out is today. This is my call to any and all tobacco users to remind you of the importance of your health and well-being – and some ideas to think about regarding taking your hard earned money and keeping it in your own pocket instead of giving it to the tobacco industry, who does not have your health in mind.

Most tobacco users know that this habit has a negative impact on their health and yet it is a very powerful addiction. Nicotine is the property in tobacco that activates the pleasure centers in the brain, which create a fairly immediate addictive pattern. After smoking approximately 4 cigarettes, an adolescent is vulnerable to becoming addicted. This is the age when most smokers began experimenting with tobacco. 

The tobacco companies have increased the amount of nicotine yield in cigarettes to increase addiction. Apparently, it’s working because approximately 1.1 billion humans smoke in the world today. Cigarette production and the use of this toxic product is threatening the health of the people we care about: our family, friends, and co-workers. Smoking raises cholesterol levels and decreases HDL, or healthy cholesterol.

It can take the average smoker between 5-7 quit attempts before they actually quit and stay quit. Every try counts and is a step closer to your goal. If you can quit for a day, you can quit for life by taking one day at a time.  Quitting is simple, maybe not easy, but it is simple and it amounts to realizing that if you have a plan and can repeat your new plan daily with a little help from your family, friends, primary care provider, the Vermont Quit Partners and a trial of Nicotine Replacement Therapy with some coaching, it is doable. The Vermont Quit Partners can help you by phone, online, or through the in person health coaches and a 4-week class to learn healthy stress management strategies and some new lifestyle practices.

The Vermont Quit Partners has helped thousands of Vermonters become tobacco free using Nicotine Replacement products (patches, gum, or lozenges).  The program offers supportive health coaching along in combination with the NRT which doubles a smoker’s chances of quitting for good.

Call Vermont QUITLINE @ 1 800-QUIT-NOW or (800) 784-8669 or go online to www.VTQuitNetwork.org or call your local hospital and ask about the In-Person Tobacco program. The best gift you can give yourself and your family this year is your health.

Evelyn Smith, MA LCMHC, CTTS-M, is an EFAP Counselor & Tobacco Treatment Specialist at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

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