The magazine Psychology Today says that one of the most common resolutions for the new year is to quit smoking, and Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner said it is probably the most difficult one to keep.
“There are two main reasons why quitting smoking is so difficult,” he said. “The first is the nicotine in cigarettes drives an addiction response that trains the brain and body to crave more. The science of addiction is very complicated, but a smoker’s brain is essentially rewired.That makes quitting a difficult process.”
The additive qualities of nicotine are so strong, Warner said, that even in the health care profession he has come into contact with professionals over the years that have preached on the dangers of chronic disease, only to be seen later lighting up in the parking lot during a lunch break.
Nick Burkholder is a respiratory therapist for Genesis Oxygen and Home Medical Services in Hillsboro, and also had strong warnings about the stimulant found in the typical 100 millimeter “straight.”
“Nicotine is an addictive ingredient, and from what I’ve studied, more so than caffeine itself,” he said. “But you also have to take into account the compulsive behavior that goes along with cigarette smoking.”
He described a conversation with a co-worker who was trying to quit and labeled it as a companion habit to other types of activities, such as having a drink and a cigarette, having a cigarette after dinner or smoking while driving.
“I think it’s a mixture of the nicotine and the habits that they do,” he said. “A friend of mine used to have to carry a pencil with him so he would have something in his hand when the craving kicked in.”
Warner said the second reason it is hard to quit tobacco is cultural, in that people who live in households with smokers are more likely to pick up the habit as children and young adults.
Because of that low perception of risk for tobacco use when parents, grandparents, or others in the house smoke, it makes it more likely a young person will start smoking as well, Burkholder said.
“In 2017, our community identified youth tobacco use as one of our main areas of health concern,” Burkholder said. “Based on recent school surveys, 12.3 percent of our local students report using tobacco within the last 30 days, compared to only 7 percent nationally.”
When he thinks about the many patients he sees on a daily basis, Burkholder said the best way to avoid having to make the New Year’s resolution to stop smoking is to not start in the first place.
Warner said there are smoking cessation programs available locally to help those wanting to kick the habit in 2019.
Baby and Me Tobacco Free is a free program provided by the Highland County Community Action Organization and Highland County WIC (women/infants/children) that encourages expectant mothers to quit smoking.
Ada Amburgy, director of the health program for HCCAO, said the program is open to any expectant mother in Highland, Clinton and Fayette counties who smokes, and there are no income guidelines.
“She would meet with a tobacco treatment specialist at least four times during the pregnancy,” she said. “As long as she is still smoke-free by the time we see her on the third and fourth time, she would receive a $25 gift card from Wamart for diapers.”
Amburgy added that after the child’s birth, the new mother could continue monthly appointments and if she remained smoke-free, would continue to receive the $25 Walmart gift card for diapers and wipes every month for one year.
As an added incentive, she said if the expectant woman has a support person who is also a smoker and agrees to quit, she would receive two $25 Walmart gift cards for the year, but only if the significant other stayed smoke free.
For information on the Baby and Me Tobacco Free program, call 937-393-3060.
Ohio Quitlogix is a free cessation program for Ohio residents 18 or older. Call the Ohio Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-784-8669 for more information and to determine eligibility.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.