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Want your kids to stay smoke-free? Start with these tips.

Anti-smoking messages seem to be everywhere, but still every year thousands of teenagers try cigarettes. It’s never too early to talk to your kids about the dangers of smoking. Here are some tips:

  • Start early. Begin talking to your kids when they’re 5 or 6, and keep the conversation going. Be sure to keep the information you share appropriate to their age.
  • Be honest. Ask your kids what they find appealing and unappealing about smoking. If you smoke or have smoked, tell to your children why it was such a bad decision.
  • Set a good example. Don’t smoke, and if you do, quit. If you’ve had trouble quitting, talk to you kids about why it’s so hard and why you wish you’d never started.
  • Make it real and share statistics. Using tobacco causes many serious health problems and has a negative effect on the way we look, smell, feel and act.
  • Encourage anti-smoking activities. Sports, band or other school activities inhibit smoking, keep kids busy and encourage healthy behavior.
  • Talk about peer pressure. Offer good examples of how to say no to tobacco (and other bad influences).
  • Have clear punishments. Let your children know how you will discipline them if they smoke.
  • Spend time with your kids. Share meals together, plan activities or find fun ways to connect.

Remember, children are influenced by their friends and what they see on TV and online, but parents are still the most important influence in their lives.


Next steps:

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.


Next steps:

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


Next steps:

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 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.


Next steps:

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.


Next steps:

smoking heart

When you use tobacco, your heart takes a beating

We’ve all heard the statistics – smoking and tobacco use greatly increase your risk of heart disease. But what, exactly, does tobacco do to your heart?

How tobacco hurts your heart

  • Nicotine, the addictive component in tobacco, speeds up the pulse rate and raises blood pressure making the heart work harder.
  • Smoking decreases HDL (good) cholesterol, increases triglyceride levels and damages the lining in blood vessels.
  • Tobacco smoke contains high levels of carbon monoxide, depriving the heart and other vital organs of the oxygen it needs.
  • Smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to cigarettes because it increases the risk of high blood pressure leading to heart disease and stroke.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke also has a negative effect on cardiovascular health. Nonsmokers’ bodies tend to react more dramatically to tobacco exposure than do smokers’ bodies.

Why quitting is worth it

Quitting has benefits you’ll start to notice right away. For example:

  • Within 24 hours after your last cigarette or tobacco use, blood pressure and pulse rate drop to normal and heart attack risk starts to drop.
  • Within a few days or weeks, exercise endurance and heart functioning improve, and HDL (good) cholesterol increases.
  • Within a year, the risk for most cardiovascular diseases will be cut in half.

Quitting is tough

We know that quitting is easier said than done, and many ex-smokers try three or more times to quit before they succeed. The good news is there are plenty of resources out there to help you quit. Ask your doctor to suggest the best quitting aid for you and check out our tips for finally conquering your smoking addiction.


Next steps:

We know that quitting smoking isn’t easy, so we’ve put together a list of resources that can help you or someone you know start on the path toward success.

Be a quitter! Tips for finally conquering your smoking addiction

If you’re a smoker, you probably already know it’s not a healthy habit. The benefits of not smoking are vast, but the bottom line is this: if you stop smoking now, you’ll have a better quality of life and very likely have more years to live it.

We know that quitting smoking isn’t easy, but we’re here to help. We’ve put together a list of tips and resources that can help you or someone you know start on the path toward success. Check them out and pass them along to family and friends.

  • Learn about smoking-cessation aids. Quitting cold turkey isn’t the best option for everyone, and aids like nicotine patches, nicotine gum and medicines for withdrawal symptoms can help make quitting easier. At UK HealthCare, low-cost nicotine replacement products are available in our pharmacies and gift shops.
  • Make it through the hardest part. It’s often said that if you can make it through your first week of not smoking, when withdrawal symptoms are at their worst, you’ll be on your way to success. From establishing new morning routines and daily habits to exercising more, little lifestyle changes can help you get through the toughest part of your journey.
  • Consider your triggers. Different triggers make different people reach for a cigarette. Plan ahead for the things that cause you to smoke and come up with an alternative plan. Do you smoke during work breaks? Try taking a walk instead. Find a replacement, keep your hands busy, chew gum or take yourself to locations where smoking isn’t allowed.
  • Avoid smoke at all costs. Ask people not to smoke around you, and avoid those who do.
  • Don’t ignore your emotions. Quitting is stressful, and you’ll need to find ways of dealing with your feelings that don’t include cigarettes. Find someone to talk to about your feelings. Take slow, deep breaths, exercise or listen to calming music.
  • Realize that a relapse isn’t the end of the world. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a cigarette after quitting. Relapse is a common occurrence and nothing to be ashamed of. Understanding why you chose to smoke is often the key to preventing it from happening again. Treat a relapse like an emergency: Figure out what caused it, and come up with strategies to keep it from happening again.
  • Remind yourself why you’re quitting. Consider writing all your reasons on a piece of paper and keeping it in your purse or wallet. “My kids. My husband. My health. Feeling more energetic. Looking younger. Keeping my breath fresh …” List as many reasons as you can think of, then pull the card out when you’re craving a cigarette to remind yourself of your motivation.

From a healthier heart and lungs to whiter teeth and fewer wrinkles, you’ll reap major health benefits when you stop smoking.


Next steps:

New FDA rules spotlight e-cigarette safety claims

Think e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to tobacco? You may want to think again.

Just last week the FDA announced new rules for e-cigarettes, which had been unregulated since they first became available in this country in 2007.

The new rules, which go into effect in August, treat e-cigarettes very much like the real thing. That’s because the two have a lot in common.

Unlike tobacco cigarettes, e-cigs do not burn. They use a battery to heat a cartridge containing nicotine and other chemicals, including flavorings, until those chemicals become a vapor that can be inhaled. The vapor from an e-cigarette does not contain the toxins and tar that tobacco smoke contains, but it does contain nicotine, one of the most addictive known substances.

And, at least until now, there was no way to know what other harmful substances the vapor contained. These could include formaldehyde, which is known to cause cancer, and the flavorings may themselves contain harmful toxins.

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. Ask any smoker who’s tried repeatedly to quit and they will tell you they wish they’d never started smoking in the first place.

Another danger is nicotine poisoning in young children, who might be attracted to the e-cig flavorings.

The new rules prohibit misleading advertising, require health warnings on e-cigarette packaging and forbid sales to anyone under age 18.

Ellen Hahn, a professor at the UK College of Nursing and co-chair of the UK Tobacco-free Task Force, was quoted in a USA Today story about the regulations, saying the new rule is a good first step toward controlling e-cigarettes. “From a health perspective, to reduce the social acceptance of them is good because frankly, it’s the Wild, Wild West out there,” she said. “Vape stores are everywhere.”

Some fans of e-cigarettes say they can help smokers quit tobacco, but there’s not enough research at this point to know whether that is true.

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.

Next steps:

E-cigarettes present a danger to adolescent smokers

Understanding the dangers of e-cigarettes

In the 1970s, Congress banned tobacco ads to protect our impressionable youth from perceiving smoking as socially desirable.

Now, for the first time in decades, advertisements portraying the recreational use of tobacco products are reappearing in popular media. Advertisements present e-cigarettes and vaporizers as safer alternatives to conventional cigarettes. Tobacco control advocates fear this type of exposure will unravel decades of progress in America by renormalizing smoking.

Researchers know little about the long-term effects of e-cigarettes. We do know nicotine, a highly addictive substance, has harmful effects on the adolescent brain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report more young people are trying e-cigarettes, and those who try e-cigarettes are twice as likely to express intent to smoke conventional cigarettes. About three out of four teen smokers will continue to smoke into adulthood.

It’s imperative that parents, mentors, teachers and youth are not misled about dangers of e-cigarettes through advertising.

No regulatory standards

The e-cigarette is classified in the U.S. as a tobacco product, not a tobacco cessation therapy. These devices came on the market in 2007 without any FDA testing and escaped many of the safety controls that protect consumers from potential harm.

FDA investigations are finding inconsistencies with the chemical and nicotine content reported on the product’s label and what is actually in the e-juice. Both devices and e-juice can be customized. Currently, no government standards exist for the production process or ingredients used in e-cigarettes or e-juice.

Exposure to highly addictive nicotine

Tobacco control advocates are especially concerned about the consequences of exposing teens to any amount of nicotine, which is highly addictive. Most people start using tobacco products before age 18. The younger a person is exposed to nicotine, the harder it is to quit later in life. Nicotine exposure can cause lasting harm to the brain and promote sustained use.

In addition to nicotine, e-cigarette users are exposed to 40 to 60 other chemicals found in e-juice. To date, no scientific evidence can fully explain the effects of those chemicals on the body when they are heated and inhaled.

Use for illegal substances

Youth are able to modify e-cigarettes for the consumption of illegal drugs. The devices can mask an illegal substance and facilitate smoking at school.

E-cigarettes are not innocuous devices. The unanswered questions regarding the safety of these devices and the detriments of exposing youth to nicotine aren’t worth the risk of trying them.

Audrey Darville

Audrey Darville

 

 

Audrey Darville is a tobacco treatment specialist at the University of Kentucky and an assistant professor in the UK College of Nursing.