Editorial: Quitting cigarettes not easy, but worth the continued effort

Jun. 18, 2013 @ 11:39 PM

For those who have never smoked cigarettes, giving up the cancer-causing habit seems so simple. If it were, we'd have far fewer smokers in the world. In fact it is very difficult, because cigarettes are so addictive both in terms of habit and the chemical makeup of the product.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't keep trying, and in addition doing all we can to stop people from starting this disgusting habit in the first place. Barbara Forbes knows this too well. She is director of the Smoking Cessation Institute at Vanderbilt University Medical Center — and a former smoker. She has spent the last 25 years helping thousands of smokers kick the habit.

“We have had some longtime success stories,” said Forbes, a nurse practitioner. “We also have a lot of people who make multiple attempts to quit. It is OK to continue to try. There are no failures in the quest to end addiction to nicotine; rather we see it as moving another step closer to closing the learning gap on being a nonsmoker. Quitting smoking is a tough, tough task that requires support from many sources. What we do know is this – an individual has a greater chance of following through with the effort when someone from their medical team makes the suggestion to quit.”

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. More than 1,200 people die every day in the U.S. while 9,700 Tennesseans die every year from smoking – more than 26 a day. State statistics show that 1.2 million adults are current cigarette smokers with 70 percent reporting a desire to quit. About half actually try to quit.

“Smoking cessation efforts are essential,” said Dr. Pierre Massion, director of the Thoracic Program at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. “I see the folks who are at high risk of developing lung cancer in my practice. It is imperative that all primary care providers not only convey the message that smoking is bad, but also offer patients solutions and resources to become smoke free. It is no longer an option – it must become part of our clinical practice.”

 Keep trying. Look into a smoking cessation program in this community. LeConte Medical Center sponsors one periodically. Do not give up the effort to quit smoking. Your life and those of your loved ones depend on it.