Thursday, November 16, 2006
Cold Turkey Day
I've never been one to preach to my patients. For the most part, they already know if they should lose weight, exercise more or stop smoking. Still, I do think I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't occasionally provide gentle reminders. As it turns out, for the last 30 years, I've had some help.

Yes, today marks the 30th anniversary of the Great American Smokeout, sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Literally millions of smokers will say "no thanks" to cigarettes for at least 24 hours. There will be public service announcements, parades, rallies, athletic events and ceremonies with celebrities encouraging people to quit. One year, a national sandwich shop even gave out "cold turkey" sandwiches to smokers who turned in at least a half a pack of cigarettes. The hope is that this one day will push smokers who want to quit in the right direction.

Whether from the Smokeout or increased awareness over the years, we are seeing some positive signs. Recently, we became a nation with a higher number of former smokers (46.5 million) compared with active smokers (45.1 million). Also, in 1964, when the first surgeon general's report came out, there were only 500 community smoking bans. Today, there are 2,300 communities and 18 states with such ordinances. Unfortunately, there are still negative signs as well. We are no longer seeing significant declines in smoking rates among high school students, who represent the next generation of smokers.

Different things work for different people and you will never hear me preach about quitting. You already know what is best. I'm eager to hear how some of you have overcome the habit or are working at it.
I quit smoking 30 years ago. My father died of lung cancer after a 3 pack a day habit. He started smoke in WW11 when the tobacco industry gave the troops free smokes. My father's death didn't stopped me. I continued to smoke a pack a day. I felt lousy, out of breath & unable to do what I loved - run (as in exercise). So I decided to quit the day I started a new job. Weird, huh? I figured I wouldn't have the "habit" of lighting up anywhere at that new location. The couple of days before I quit I smoked constantly, until I literally felt sick, so that the idea of lighting up made me want to "throw up" instead. It worked for me ... I have been smoke free & lovin it for 30 years now. Good luck to you smokers, if I can do it so can you!
Dr. Gupta:

I didn't even realize the Smokeout Day was approaching when my fiance and I quit smoking "Cold Turkey" eight days ago.

We were inspired to quit when my 77 year old grandfather passed away on Nov. 7th (last Tuesday) of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), which is caused by smoking.

He essentially suffocated to death. I can't imagine how scary it was when he finally could not take another breath. We are both 30 years old, which is still young enough to reverse the majority of the affects of smoking.

Anytime we want a cigarette, we just remember my Grandpa Jack.
This is such a great event! More cities should participate. I am a smoker and I wish I could have a support system in my area. My many failed attempts at quiting really take a toll on a person..... US cities need to be more aware of being aware. Instead of pushing smokers 40 feet away from public places, why can't they raise awareness instead of hiding us in the corner?
I quit smoking 1 year and 4 months ago after having been a smoker for 10 years. I was 14 when I smoked my first cigarrette and a regular smoker within a year. Six months before my 25th birthday my brother reminded me that we had made a bet that I owed him $250 if I didn't quit by my birthday. I decided that there really was never going to be a good time to quit, so my birthday was the day. I met with a smoking cessation counselor and we inventoried my triggers and how I would replace them. She set me up with NRT(nicotine replacement therapy) and said to take it one day at a time. I smoked my last cigarrette on July 23rd 2005, the day I turned 25. The first 3 days were unbearable but now I never think about, don't use NRT, and feel like a new woman!! My advice to anyone looking to quit is, take it one day at a time!
Hi Dr. Gupta,
I had a neighbor who had a farm and when he stopped smoking, he decided to plow his cigarettes into the soil with his tractor. Come nightfall, he said he was crawling on his hands and knees in the dark, desperately searching the field for his SMOKES. Cold turkey, I guess was not an option. Smoking, has quite a hold on some people. Take Care
I smoked for 27 years. That's about 189,000 cigs. I stopped smoking the "Easy Way" by reading a $15 book by Allen Carr and it works! It has a 50% success rate, where as the patch is somewhere about 15%. It explains why you are hooked on cigs and why your body acts the way it does when you quit or think about quitting. Never going to smoke again! Greatest book I have EVER read!
I smoked for 6 years and I quit on and off. I finally decided that since my wife was a non-smoking person and my health needed it. I was going to quit and never touch another cig for the rest of my life EVER again. I decided that I was going to use a product called smoke away it is homopathic AKA natural with no nicotene in it and it worked I followed the program to a tee and now I have been smoke free for over two years.
I had smoked some (50) years, until one day I was weeding my wife's flower garden and tripped and fell on my left side and shoulder. The next day I had a xray taken and it revealed a small cancer on the middle lobe of my right lung. I had the lobe removed some 3 1/2 years ago. I did finally quit smoking at that time. It was the hardest thing that I had ever done and I doubt that I would have not quit had I not had cancer. I had tried many times before to quit, but to no avail. Now, my wife's flower garden has a very honored place in our yard.
Unfortunately, those 46.5 million ex-smokers are the sum total of all the people who have quit smoking tobacco over the last 40 or 50 years or so and are still alive today. What's really important is that the smoking population has remained steady at about 44 million since 1990 (that's 17 years without any significant progress)
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