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quitting smoking

11 strategies for quitting tobacco – and staying quit

It’s clear: The best possible thing you can do for your health if you’re a smoker is quit. If you’re ready to become a former smoker, these tips can help you succeed.

Set a date. Try to pick a time when temptations to smoke will be relatively low.

Make a plan. Tobacco is a serious addiction and hard to quit. But there are cessation aids available. Talk to you doctor or other healthcare providers about what might be right for you. There’s no glory in going cold turkey and making it harder on yourself.

Consider your triggers, and plan alternative responses ahead of time. Do you smoke when you’re stressed? Try meditation or start an exercise plan. If you tend to smoke after dinner, have some gum handy.

Make a list of the reasons WHY you’re quitting and reread it often. Constantly remind yourself of what’s good about not smoking. When it’s 0 degrees outside, isn’t it nice not have to stand out there to smoke?

Enjoy the benefits of quitting. Your senses of smell and taste will begin to return after you’ve quit – plan to buy yourself flowers or a lovely smelling essential oil. Or occasionally treat yourself to a small square of heart-healthy dark chocolate – just be careful not to go overboard and substitute food for smoking.

Tell someone. Ask a friend to help keep you accountable and to be there to listen when you struggle.

Prepare your environment. Go through your home, your desk and your car and remove all traces of cigarettes, lighters, matches and ashtrays. Consider cleaning the interior of your car and washing curtains, bed linens and your clothes to remove traces of smoke and make everything smell fresh.

Create new routines that don’t involve cigarettes. If you always take an afternoon break with the smoking crowd, plan for a break 30 minutes earlier and go for a walk instead. If you always smoke after dinner, plan another way to spend your time.

Likewise, get some distance from other smokers. Let your smoking friends and family know that your routine is changing and that you’d rather they not smoke around you. Anyone who tries to tempt you back into smoking doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

Use the money you don’t spend on cigarettes to save up for something you want. Cigarettes are expensive; give yourself added incentive to quit by planning to use that money for something great.

If you fall down, pick yourself up and keep going. You’re not a failure if you succumb to one temptation; you’re only a failure if you stop trying. Think about what caused you to smoke and how you might avoid or handle that temptation better next time.


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UK study finds smoke-free laws lead to reduced rates of lung cancer

A recent study by UK’s BREATHE (Bridging Research Efforts and Advocacy Toward Healthy Environments) shows that fewer new cases of lung cancer were found in communities with strong smoke-free workplace laws.

Strong smoke-free laws are known to improve public health by lowering rates of heart attack, stroke, asthma and emphysema. This study, led by Ellen Hahn, PhD, director of BREATHE and professor in the UK College of Nursing, is the first to show that new cases of lung cancer are lower when communities enact strong smoke-free laws.

The results of the study were published in Cancer, an American Cancer Society journal dedicated to providing clinicians with information on diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

Benefits of stronger smoke-free laws

Kentucky has more cases of lung cancer than any other state, and its mortality rate is 50 percent higher than the national average. Hahn and her team studied whether new cases of lung cancer in Kentucky were lower, higher or stable in communities with smoke-free laws.

“Kentucky has one of the highest adult cigarette smoking rates and the highest rate of new lung cancer cases in the nation,” Hahn said. “Only one-third of Kentuckians are protected by strong smoke-free workplace laws.”

Though other environmental factors play a part in the development of lung cancer, smoking and secondhand smoke exposure are the root cause of the disease.

“This new study shows that having strong smoke-free workplace laws in place to prevent exposure to secondhand smoke is one more way we can help protect our citizens from this devastating disease,” said Dr. Mark Evers, director of the UK Markey Cancer Center.

Creating more smoke-free workplaces

Using data compiled from the Kentucky Cancer Registry, the Cancer Research Informatics Shared Resource Facility and Markey, researchers looked at 20 years of new lung cancer diagnoses among Kentuckians age 50 and over in communities with strong, moderate and weak smoke-free laws.

Lung cancer incidence was 8 percent lower in communities with strong smoke-free workplace laws compared to communities without smoke-free laws. Researchers did not find differences in lung cancer rates between communities with moderate or weak smoke-free laws and those without any smoke-free laws.

These findings could be used to prompt legislation to create more communities with strong smoke-free workplace laws in Kentucky.

“Local government can play a critical role in preventing lung cancer,” said Hahn. “Elected officials can ensure that all workers and the public are protected from secondhand smoke by passing strong smoke-free laws with few or no exceptions.”

BREATHE is a multi-disciplinary research, outreach, and practice collaborative of the UK College of Nursing. Its mission is to promote lung health and healthy environments to achieve health equity through research, community outreach and empowerment, advocacy and policy development and access to health services.

For more information about BREATHE, visit www.breathe.uky.eduClick here to see the map and listings of smoke-free ordinances in Kentucky.


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Markey receives NCI grant to expand tobacco cessation treatment

The UK Markey Cancer Center is one of 22 cancer centers nationwide to receive funding to build and implement tobacco cessation treatment programs via the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Center Cessation Initiative.

In 2017, NCI launched the Cancer Center Cessation Initiative as part of the NCI Cancer Moonshot℠ program. Through this initiative, Markey will receive $253,000 over the next year to help enhance the delivery of tobacco cessation treatments through four major efforts:

  • Refining electronic medical records and clinical workflows to ensure the systematic identification and documentation of smokers and the routine delivery of evidence-based tobacco cessation treatment services.
  • Overcoming patient, clinician, clinic and health system barriers to providing tobacco cessation treatment services.
  • Achieving institutional buy-in that treating tobacco use is a component of organizational “Standard of Care.”
  • Creating mechanisms to sustain tobacco cessation treatment services so that they continue beyond the funding period of the initiative.

Kentucky has more cases of lung cancer than any other state, and its mortality rate is 50 percent higher than the national average. Though other environmental factors play a part in the development of lung cancer, smoking and other uses of tobacco are the root cause of the disease.

“This grant award provides the means for Markey to embark on a clinically important, two-pronged approach to tobacco treatment, one that includes both provider education and patient care,” said Jessica Burris, assistant professor of psychology in the UK College of Arts & Sciences and member of the Markey Cancer Prevention and Control program.

“The goal is to quickly and reliably assess the tobacco use status of each and every patient, and to deliver evidence-based cessation treatment to all tobacco users. With this initiative, the promise of a marked, positive impact on the lives of Markey patients is clear because tobacco treatment is cancer treatment.”


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How to help a loved one cope with withdrawal – and quit for good

Today is the Great American Smokeout, an event held annually to encourage the millions of smokers in the U.S. to quit or to make a plan to quit. Giving up cigarettes is one of the hardest things many people will ever do, so if you have a friend or loved one trying to quit, know that your support can make a huge difference.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Respect that the quitter is in charge. Be a good listener and ask how you can help.
  • Learn how people quit. Find out about quitting aids like nicotine patches, gum or non-nicotine medication.
  • Provide “supplies” to help them quit. This could include hard candy, gum or toothpicks, or even fresh vegetables cut up in the refrigerator.
  • Plan and encourage distractions. Take a walk, go to the movies or start a new hobby together.
  • Keep your home smoke free. This includes not only cigarettes, but also lighters and ash trays. Remove any reminders of smoking.
  • Reduce stress by helping with chores, cooking or even childcare.
  • Don’t take it personally. Nicotine withdrawal is a real thing, so expect some grumpiness. Withdrawal symptoms don’t last forever, and usually go away after two weeks.
  • Celebrate! Quitting smoking is a big deal that should be rewarded.

Helping with a slip-up:

  • Don’t tease, blame or make the quitter feel guilty.
  • Don’t assume they’ll automatically relapse. Taking a puff or smoking a cigarette does not mean the quitter is a failure.
  • Be affirmative. Remind them of the reasons they quit and the positive gains they’ve made.
  • Help make a plan. A failed attempt to quit is a good opportunity to talk about triggers and ask how else you can help.
  • Be realistic. It’s not uncommon for ex-smokers to start smoking again, so remind the quitter that they aren’t alone.

How to help if you’re a smoker:

  • Be respectful. Know that when you smoke, it’s a trigger for someone who is trying to quit.
  • Keep your cigarettes, lighter or matches out of sight.
  • Don’t joke. Don’t offer a cigarette, even if you’re kidding.
  • Know that you can help. Even if you smoke, you can offer encouragement and praise to someone who is quitting.

Be positive, and let your friend or loved one know that you’re here to help for the long haul. Your support can greatly increase the chances of success for the person giving up smoking.


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Pledge to quit during the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 16

Audrey K. Darville, PhD, APRN, CTTS

Written by Audrey K. Darville, an associate professor in the UK College of Nursing and a certified tobacco treatment specialist.

Tobacco use continues to take a massive toll on the lives of Kentuckians. Currently, one in four Kentuckians smoke cigarettes, and certain groups, like pregnant women, smoke at even higher rates. Tobacco use also takes an enormous toll on our economy. Each year, Kentucky spends nearly $2 billion treating Kentuckians who get sick from smoking and employers spend $5,816 a year in healthcare costs and lost productivity for every employee who smokes.

Tobacco use is a chronic problem causing serious and severe health conditions and early death. Nicotine is addictive, and users need help to quit. Even after a smoker quits, relapse, or starting to smoke again, is common. Fewer than five out of 100 people who quit cold turkey (without help) succeed.

There are many efforts in place to help reduce smoking in the Commonwealth. The Great American Smokeout, which takes place on the third Thursday in November each year, is the perfect opportunity to talk about new help available to help Kentuckians quit.

Resources for quitting

If you use tobacco, think about quitting and know you don’t have to do it alone. Talk to your healthcare provider, local health department and/or call the quitline (1-800-QUITNOW). If you are a healthcare provider, help your patients quit by offering them proven and affordable treatments. If you are an employer, provide your employees ready access to all of the proven smoking cessation treatments.

For the first time, most Kentucky insurers, including Medicaid, are required to cover all proven smoking cessation treatments without copays. These include:

  • All seven medications (nicotine patch, gum, lozenge, inhaler, nasal spray; bupropion; varenicline).
  • Individual, group and telephone counseling.
  • Services and medications provided with no co-pay or prior authorizations.
  • Coverage for at least two quit attempts per year, with no lifetime limits.

Misconceptions about e-cigarettes

There is a common misconception that electronic cigarettes are a safe alternative to tobacco cigarettes and can be used to quit smoking. Recent studies have shown that the “vapor” from e-cigarettes is actually a toxic aerosol of fine particles that inflames the airways, having effects similar to tobacco smoke. E-cigarettes are not an approved FDA smoking cessation method, and smokers who use e-cigarettes delay quitting and are significantly less likely to quit smoking than smokers who use proven cessation treatments.

The single best thing any tobacco user can do for their health is to quit. So ask for help and become an ex-smoker during the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 16.

For more information, contact BREATHE at the UK College of Nursing: www.breathe.uky.edu


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9 great reasons to quit tobacco now

Quitting smoking is obviously good for your long-term health, but did you know there are immediate benefits? If you quit smoking right now, your health improves within minutes. Here’s a timeline of the positive changes you can look forward to when you quit:

  1. After 20 minutes, your blood pressure, pulse rate and the temperature of your hands and feet return to the normal rate.
  2. After 12 hours, your blood oxygen levels and carbon monoxide levels return to normal.
  3. After 24 hours, you have lowered your chance at having a heart attack.
  4. Within 48 hours, your sense of smell and taste return to normal.
  5. Within 72 hours, breathing becomes easier and your lung function increases.
  6. Within two weeks, blood circulation in your gums and teeth is back to normal.
  7. In 1 to 3 months, your circulation improves, walking is easier and your chronic cough goes away.
  8. In 1-9 months, your lungs are cleaner and your energy level increases.
  9. In one year, your risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke has dropped in half.

Every minute that you don’t smoke improves your overall health, and the perks to quitting are enormous. Food will taste better, you’ll get sick less often and physical activities will become much easier. Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but you can look forward to many real benefits.

Next Thursday, Nov. 16, is the annual Great American Smokeout sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Communities all over the country will hold rallies, parades and meetings to help people quit smoking. For more information or to get involved, call the American Cancer Society at 800-227-2345 or visit them on the web.


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tobacco treatment training

Training program at UK is helping others kick their tobacco habit

The UK College of Nursing’s BREATHE Tobacco Treatment Specialist (TTS) training program recently received accreditation from the Council for Tobacco Treatment Training Programs, making it one of only 18 accredited training programs for tobacco treatment in the world.

The BREATHE TTS training program was developed as a collaborative effort by UK and community partners interested in establishing a network of health professionals who can provide evidence-based tobacco dependence treatment.

Earning accreditation means TTS training programs comply with established education standards. Those who complete an accredited program demonstrate a high level of proficiency in tobacco dependence treatment and will be eligible to obtain a certification as a Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist.

“We are so pleased to receive accreditation and provide greater access to tobacco treatment training through this all-online format,” said Audrey Darville, PhD, APRN, BREATHE TTS program director and associate professor in the UK College of Nursing. “Our goal is to increase the number of tobacco dependence treatment providers in Kentucky and beyond.”

The BREATHE TTS course, the first offered completely online, teaches guidelines developed by the Association for the Treatment of Tobacco Use and Dependence. The course includes 27 hours of self-paced training, assignments and evaluation. After finishing the course, participants earn a training certificate, the first step in obtaining TTS certification.

Kentucky has one of the highest adult smoking rates in the nation and an urgent need to increase the number of trained health professionals in tobacco treatment. The program was launched in February 2017 and has provided training to 22 professionals, which triples the number of trained TTS individuals in Kentucky. Participants are from a variety of healthcare disciplines and work in inpatient, outpatient, community and public health settings.

“The knowledge I gained from the BREATHE TTS program has enabled me to offer so much more support and guidance to my patients on a daily basis,” said Teresa Cumpton, a TTS training participant and a pulmonary educator at Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in Ashland, Ky.

UK Markey Cancer Center affiliate sites also are engaged in training tobacco treatment specialists, said Dr. Timothy Mullett, medical director of the Markey Affiliate Network.

“They are passionate about cancer control, and having this accredited tobacco treatment specialist training program at UK is an important milestone for Markey Cancer Center and UK HealthCare,” he said.


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Tobacco free

We’re tobacco-free. Here’s why.

At UK HealthCare, we are committed to improving the health and well-being of all Kentuckians. As part of that mission, all healthcare sites and UK campus locations – inside and outside as well as parking areas – prohibit the use of tobacco products (cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, snuff, snus, water pipes, pipes, etc.).

Why is UK HealthCare tobacco-free?

  • Simply put, tobacco use takes a significant toll on a person’s overall health. It increases risk for heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, and can cause damage to nearly every organ in the body.
  • Tobacco smoke can make breathing harder for others with asthma or other lung problems.
  • Quitting tobacco has a wide array of health benefits – from a healthier heart and lungs to whiter teeth and fewer wrinkles.
  • Seeing others use tobacco can trigger strong urges in those who are trying to quit.

Be a quitter!

We’re here to help. In fact, many of our patients, visitors and employees have stopped or are trying to stop using tobacco.

You can purchase nicotine replacement gum at the Kentucky Clinic Pharmacy, UK Chandler Hospital Gift Shop and University Health Pharmacy at a very low cost. Tobacco-cessation coaching is also available to our employees at no cost.

For more information to help you or someone you know quit, check out our tips for conquering a tobacco addiction.

Thank you for keeping UK tobacco-free.


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Get Fit and Quit

UK partnership helps women in recovery replace cigarettes with sweat

While managing her sobriety, returning to the workforce and enduring a grueling legal process to reunite with her children, Missy couldn’t imagine a day without cigarettes.

After finishing a six-year prison sentence in January, she was determined to get her life back in order. In the spring, she completed a substance abuse rehabilitation program at the Chrysalis House, a residential recovery center for women in Lexington. She got a job and started working through the legal process necessary to regain custody of her children. Smoking – a habit she picked up after prison – helped her cope with her emotions and the stress of court dates and legal battles.

“Quitting wasn’t a top priority because I was so stressed out with stuff going on with my kids,” Missy said. “I would push it to the back of my mind, like, ‘I am not even going to think about quitting smoking, this is calming me down.’”

Then she learned she was pregnant, and she set a quit date.

“It kind of seemed like it was impossible because there is so much going on,” she said. “But me finding out I was pregnant –that pushed me over the edge.”

During her stay at the Chrysalis House earlier this year, Missy signed up for the Get Fit and Quit Program (GFAQ), a community-based research partnership organized by health advocates at the UK College of Nursing, the Chrysalis House and the YMCA of Central Kentucky.

The program, which started in March, includes group tobacco treatment and physical activity sessions. About 14 Chrysalis House clients have enrolled and consistently participated. Through the program, women in recovery at the Chrysalis House are eligible to receive a free family YMCA membership, a free fitness-tracking device and other family health benefits.

Exposing women to physical activity

Enrolled Chrysalis House clients participate in 10 hour-and-a-half Get Fit and Quit sessions with 45 minutes of each session dedicated to group tobacco cessation content followed by 45 minutes of physical activity at the Northside YMCA. UK nurse interventionists Janine Barnett and Tisha Ducas facilitate the sessions.

The program exposes women and families to a range of physical activity, from cardiovascular group workouts like Zumba, to cycling, to yoga, to weight lifting as well as a day to choose a fitness activity on their own. Barnett said many women are learning to replace tobacco use with healthier activities for managing stress.

“The majority of our session content focuses on identifying smoking triggers and stress and discovering new ways to manage them,” Barnett said. “We hope that through exercise, the women will feel the benefits of endorphin release, they will begin to feel physically and mentally better, and then they will begin to naturally incorporate this healthy behavior into their everyday routine.”

Fighting back against stress

Stress is a well-known predictor of smoking. Beginning in 2015, Amanda Fallin-Bennett, a tobacco control researcher in the UK College of Nursing and a primary investigator on the GFAQ program, partnered with the Chrysalis House to conduct pilot research on the barriers to tobacco treatment and cessation specifically for women in addiction rehabilitation programs.

Based on results of individual interviews and focus groups with Chrysalis House residents and staff, GFAQ was designed for a group of women reporting high levels of stress. The program takes an integrative approach that includes a supportive peer network, organized group exercise classes, and access to tobacco treatment specialists and counseling.

The researchers then formed partnerships with staff at the Chrysalis House, as well as officials from the YMCA of Central Kentucky and the Kentucky Quit Line, which provides free nicotine replacement for women enrolled in GFAQ.

Tonya Jernigan, clinical director of the Chrysalis House, said the collaboration complements her organization’s holistic approach to recovery that addresses the physical, spiritual and mental state of addiction. The clients are provided with multiple tools and resources to succeed on their path to health and substance-free living. They also model healthy behaviors by seeing other families in the community enjoying the benefits of a YMCA membership.

“It’s planting a seed,” Jernigan said. “Part of that recovery process is being able to build a natural support system and being able to see what healthy families look like.”

Swapping smoking for sweat

Susan Sanders, a clinical nurse at the Chrysalis House, said the program provides a safe, non-judgmental and family-friendly outlet for clients to participate in physical activity. Importantly, Chrysalis House clients participating in the program are engaged in the community, which helps to normalize exercise and decrease access barriers to healthy activities.

“Just to feel like there’s folks at UK and folks at the Y who are willing to reach out to them — who care about them enough to put this program together— that’s inspiring to them as individuals,” Sanders said.

The clients, most importantly, are learning to swap out smoking for physical activity as a response to stress. In addition, their families are getting plugged into their local community and experiencing the joy of exercise.

“And I am in the best shape of my life thanks to this program,” said one participant, whose identity is protected. “I have been getting compliments almost daily, and the YMCA has been my and the kids’ second home. I feel this program will change lives and its changed mine for the better.”

Missy admits she’s never been enthusiastic about working out in the past, but she’s learned to appreciate exercise and enjoys swimming. She remains committed to the program because she needs encouragement and accountability to make her quit goal. When she missed her quit date about a month ago, participating in the class and receiving encouragement from the instructors motivated her to try again.

“I really started enjoying the program when I had a breakdown when I didn’t make my quit date,” she said. “Janine and the nurses have been very supportive and caring, and they try to understand. They are swift in their thinking – they know what to say.”

*Missy’s name was changed to ensure client confidentiality.


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e-cigarettes are not safe

What you might not know about e-cigarettes

Think e-cigarettes are better for you than other tobacco products? You may want to think again.

Although it is true that vapor from an e-cigarette does not contain the toxins and tar that tobacco smoke contains, it does contain nicotine, one of the most addictive known substances and one that’s harmful to your health, too. Here’s why you should think twice before trying e-cigarettes.

E-cigs won’t help you quit

Despite what you might have heard, e-cigarettes are addictive because they contain nicotine, just like other tobacco products.

Nicotine exposure can cause lasting harm to the brain and promote sustained use.

E-cigarettes are not safe during pregnancy

E-cigarettes and other electronic smoking products, like vapes, contain nicotine, which can cause birth defects and long-term health consequences for the developing brain and body of an unborn child.

They’re more appealing to non-smokers

One of the biggest fears with e-cigarettes is that their flavorings will attract non-smokers, particularly teenagers, and lead to a lifelong nicotine addiction. The younger a person is when they are exposed to nicotine, the harder it is for them to quit later in life.

The bottom line is it’s better not to smoke at all. If you’re a smoker trying to quit, be sure to seek out support to help you along the way. See our list of resources below. And if you’re a non-smoker, remember, that first e-cigarette could lead to a lifetime of trying to quit.


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