Quitting Smoking: “I Need Help To Stop”

Ways for Quitting Smoking

Dear Dr. Mahler:  I have COPD and breathe hard with most activities. I was in the hospital two months ago for a chest infection and had to quit smoking then. I did great for about 3 weeks, but then started smoking 1 – 2 cigarettes a day. Gradually, it increased to about 10 per day. It is frustrating because I know that I should quit. I try to stay busy, but a friend may come over to visit and we both enjoy smoking together. It helps me relax.  My doctor has told me that I have Stage 3 COPD, and take Spiriva and Advair inhalers. I make sure to get a flu shot each year. Is there any advice can you give me? Miriam from Corpus Christi, TX Dear Miriam: It is great that you want to quit smoking. Here is some general information on smoking in the US followed by recommendations to help you quit. General Information on Tobacco Use In The United States According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2015, 20% of adults (49 Million) use a tobacco product either every day or some days. That includes cigarettes (15%), e-cigarettes (3.5%), cigars or cigarillos (3.4%), smokeless tobacco (2.3%), and regular pipes, water pipes, or hookahs (1.2%).
Smokers need help quitting smoking

Cigarette Smoking

Current use of tobacco is higher in men (25% versus 15% in women), those less than 65 years of age, persons living in the Midwest; persons of annual household income of less than $35,000 per year (28% versus 13% with income of at least $100,000 per year); persons who were single, never married, or not living with a partner; persons insured through Medicaid; persons with a disability, and those who identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (27% versus 20% in heterosexuals). Ways For Quitting Smoking I have provided information on ways for quitting smoking in Chapter 3 (Can You Help Me Quit Smoking?) of COPD: Answers to Your Questions published in 2015 (for more information see heading Books on my website). Various websites and phone numbers are listed in a Table on page 23. In addition, QuitNow offers a FREE program which will help you create an easy-to-follow Quitting Plan that will show you how to get ready, take action, and then live the rest of your life as a non-smoker. The website is www.QuitNow.org, and the phone number is 1-800-784-8669. According to the website, you get: Quitting Aids including FREE nicotine replacement products (patches or gum) if it is part of your personalized Quitting Plan; Quit Guide – an easy to use workbook; Quit Coach – assistance over the phone from someone who specializes in helping people quit; Web Coach – a private online community where you can complete activities, watch videos, and track your progress; and Text2Quit – text messages allows you to connect with your Quit Coach, interact with your Web Coach, use medications correctly, manage urges, and avoid relapse. Finally, Miriam, I encourage you to discuss your desire to quit smoking with you health care professional. He or she can offer suggestions based on knowledge about your specific situation.
Mark Twain has a famous quote about quitting smoking

Mark Twain

I often quote Mark Twain about quitting smoking: “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” Best wishes on success on quitting smoking. Donald A. Mahler, M.D.

Donald A. Mahler, M.D. is Emeritus Professor of Medicine at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire. He works as a pulmonary physician at Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont, NH, where he is Director of Respiratory Services.