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Make the Great American Smokeout your day to quit

If the following list sounds good, stay tuned for how to achieve the benefits the list contains.

You'll save lots of money.

Your house will smell better.

You'll be safer driving and sleeping.

You'll be setting a great example for your children, grandchildren, relatives and friends.

You won't feel compelled to go outside and stand for 15 minutes in awful weather.

You'll look better, feel better and smell better.

People around you will be healthier.

Your risk of lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic lung diseases and respiratory illnesses will be greatly decreased.

You will live longer.

The above list consists of some possible answers to the question: "Why quit smoking?"

Thursday marks the annual Great American Smokeout and provides a perfect time to begin a new life free of tobacco. Many in America will use this event to quit for the day and some will even quit for good.

Quitting and staying quit can be pretty tough. Nicotine is the main reason. It is a drug found in the tobacco leaf and is highly addictive. It is as addictive as heroin and cocaine. The body becomes physically and psychologically dependent on nicotine. Studies have shown that smokers must overcome both of these to be successful at quitting and staying quit.

If you want to quit, know that there is help. There are many methods available and lots of ways to get help. There are booklets and materials available from the American Lung Association at (406) 256-7150, the American Cancer Society at (406) 442-6556, and the American Heart Association at (406) 452-2362. Your doctor can help you with obtaining nicotine replacement therapy. Internet sites offer help with quitting, such as the free program, Freedom from Smoking Online, offered by American Cancer Society. Quit Smart classes are held at Northern Montana Hospital (262-1780 or (800) 823-6361). Your local health department also has information available to help you quit and your doctor can provide you with help.

Pledge to quit for the Great American Smokeout. Let your family and friends and co-workers know and let them know what they can do to help you.

If you are among the more than 75 percent of Montana adults who don't smoke, you can help those who are trying to quit. Support them in their effort. You also help smokers every time you insist on smoke-free workplaces for everyone, smoke-free dining, smoke-free entertainment, and smoke-free homes and vehicles.

Even cutting back on tobacco can lead to symptoms of withdrawal. Symptoms include: depression, feelings of frustration and anger, irritability, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, headache, tiredness and increased appetite.

Clearly, a day or two before a big exam, important meeting or other event may not be the best time to quit. But don't let excuses pile up. The sooner a person quits, the sooner she or he will begin to reap the benefits of a tobacco-free life.

Tobacco use leads to death and disease. In Montana, 1,400 adults die each year from their own smoking. Between 90 and 170 adults, children, and babies die each year in Montana from others' smoking (secondhand smoking and pregnancy smoking).

Stopping smoking can be tough, but millions have discovered that hanging in until the withdrawal symptoms pass is worth the effort. Remember that help is only a phone call or a log on away.

For more information about tobacco-use prevention, smoke-free workplaces and healthy lifestyles, contact the HELP Committee at 265-6202.


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