WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — New year, new opportunities to break old habits! Smoking tends to always be at the top of the list for New Year’s resolutions, and according to a study on smoking cessation by National Jewish Health, 1.3 million smokers try to quit every year.
Most people need a good wake up call from the experts, like United Regional’s respiratory health director, Darrin French.
“The main things that I always teach in class or talk about to smokers is there’s little hairlike fibers in your lungs called cilia,” says French. “That’s what smoking does: it covers those up with tar and makes them stiff, and what that does it eliminates and shuts down your natural elevation of secretions. Once that happens, that’s why smokers begin to get sick.“
While it may be the best option for a person who’s been smoking for most of his or her life, going cold turkey may not be the easiest one.
Nicotine, which is the main ingredient in cigarettes can be just as addictive as heroin or alcohol, creating intense withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, irritability, even depression. This can cause some to relapse or take alternative measures like vaping, which as we’ve seen nowadays, can also be dangerous.
“One of the things we’ve learned is called ‘popcorn lung’,” says French. “It’s the same chemical they use in all popcorn flavoring…But anytime you introduce a chemical or any foreign substance into your airway, your taking a risk.”
As of December 17th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 2,506 cases of lung injuries linked to e-cigarette or vaping products have been reported. At least 54 deaths have been reported in 27 states, including Washington D-C.
Recent measures have been taken in congress to reduce the risks of the products by raising the age requirement to purchase cigarettes and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21.
There is also a bright side of going cold turkey. According to French, the effects of quitting smoking can be felt in the first 20 minutes.
“Your blood pressure and heart rate start going back to normal. Ex-smokers will come back and tell me now that they can smell, they can smell cigarette smoke from miles away, and their eating habits changes because their taste buds are back.”
With going cold turkey, French says it does get pretty tough. Before you consider carrying out your New Year’s resolution, French suggests getting mentally and physically ready for the changes you’ll experience.
To sign up for a respiratory health course at United Regional, click here.