February is National Cancer Prevention and American Heart month. One of the best things a person can do to prevent cancer and heart disease is quit tobacco. Cigarette smoking is linked to multiple types of cancer and accounts for the vast majority of lung cancer deaths. Smoking also is a major risk factor for heart disease. Chemicals in tobacco smoke damage heart and blood vessel function leading to plague build up and an increased risk of heart attack. Quitting allows the body to begin reversing tobacco related damage.
Smokeless tobacco users are challenged to quit their habit for a day during the Great American Spit Out on Feb. 23. It may be a stepping stone for quitting smokeless tobacco for good. Smokeless tobacco (chew or snuff) can lead to tooth decay, gum problems and mouth sores. Chemicals in smokeless tobacco products also are linked to cancers of the esophagus, mouth and pancreas. Here’s how to get ready to quit for a day:
- Write down your reasons for quitting.
- Cut down your usage. Try cutting back to half the amount before quitting.
- Seek out family and friends to help you. Look for others who might want to quit with you, and support each other.
- Get support. You are twice as likely to succeed if you participate in a tobacco cessation program.
For free help quitting, call the Colorado QuitLine, 800-QUIT-NOW (English and Spanish) or go to www.coquitline.org. Quit Kits with smokeless tobacco cessation information are available for no cost in the lobbies of the Northwest Colorado VNA, 940 Central Park Drive, Suite 101, in Steamboat and 745 Russell St. in Craig.