It’s time for you to quit using nicotine

| March 18, 2020 1:00 AM

Today is Kick Butts Day! Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, this national movement is designed to raise awareness about the problems associated with tobacco use. We’re not just talking cigarettes here. It’s any tobacco product, and, just to be clear, it includes e-cigarettes as well.

Escape the Vape, Eschew the Chew, Bazooka the Hookah – whatever you want to say, maybe just Be Clean of Nicotine? Call it what you will, today is the day to talk about the hazards of using nicotine-containing products. Hazards like cancer, lung disease, heart disease, shortening your life by at least ten years, and then we can talk about the many thousands of dollars that go up in smoke, are spit out on the ground, or blown into thin air.

“Many of the chemicals in cigarettes, like nicotine and cyanide, are poisons that can kill in high doses. The body is smart. It goes on the defense when it’s being poisoned. First-time smokers often feel pain or burning in their throat and lungs, and some even throw up the first few times they try tobacco,” Teenshealth.org tells us.

So why, when your body doesn’t want these poisons, do we start to use? Probably because we think it looks cool or because a friend or family members do it and we want to be like them.

“Almost all adult tobacco users started before they were 18 years old,” Teenshealth says, “most never expected to become addicted. That’s why it’s so much easier not to start smoking at all.”

Teen smokers can develop gum disease, yellow teeth, eye disease, and risk of infections like pneumonia. They have a greater risk of diabetes and developing weaker bones that are easier to break. Oh, and let’s talk about a higher risk of ulcers and skin problems, including conditions like psoriasis and wrinkles. Not to mention that your breath, clothes, and hair stink.

Cigarette smoking can damage your blood vessels. Erectile dysfunction is often the result of poor arterial blood supply to the penis. If you’re following along, you’ll surmise that smoking can be detrimental to a man’s sexual performance.

And, it’s not just about men. “Girls who smoke and are on hormone-based birth control methods have a higher risk of serious health problems, like heart attacks. And, if a woman wants to get pregnant, smoking can make that harder,” Teenhealth explains.

Kids who use tobacco have trouble keeping up in sports. They say that “smokers usually can’t compete well with nonsmokers. Physical effects of smoking, like a fast heartbeat, decreased circulation, and shortness of breath, harm sports performance.” Plus, if you experience a common sports injury like damage to tendons and ligaments, you’ll heal more slowly than a nonsmoker.

Often teens think smoking is a good way to manage their weight, but here’s the deal; this can lead to a deficit in nutrients that are needed to grow, develop, and fight off illness. As a result, smokers are a bigger target for colds, flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia than nonsmokers.

“And people with some health conditions, like asthma, get sicker if they smoke (and often if they’re just around people who smoke),” Teenhealth says, so why not get the whole family to quit?

Over 1500 Idahoans die every year from tobacco-related illnesses or injuries. You don’t want to be one of those statistics, so what you want to do is contact Linda Harder, Program Manager at Panhandle Health District. Her phone is 208-415-5143, her email is lharder@phd1.idaho.gov.

She’ll tell you all about the quit tobacco and e-cigarette classes designed to address the needs and lifestyles of middle and high school students.

“END curriculum is designed especially for teens. It not only focuses on quitting but also on social skills, stress management, decision making, goal setting, nutrition, and physical activity,” Panhandlehealthdistrict.org website explains.

For adults, Panhandle Health offers an effective and successful 3-Call Program. “Clients are provided nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges if they desire and a quit-kit. During the 3-call program, clients will discuss tips for dealing with cravings and withdrawal symptoms, stress management, and progress in quitting.

What are you waiting for? Make that call today.

Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at kathyleehubbard@yahoo.com.