MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you smoke cigarettes, or know someone who does, you probably know how hard it is to quit.
But the good news is doctors say more Americans are kicking the habit, and fewer teenagers are picking it up.
Here in Minneapolis, smokers who want to quit are finding help at Hennepin County Medical Center’s Addiction Specialty Center.
Dr. Charles Reznikoff is one of the addiction experts at HCMC. He described the appeal of smoking and the effects of nicotine.
“Kind of however you feel, nicotine is a pretty powerful drug in making you feel even better,” Reznikoff said.
Smoking can be relaxing, but it is also destructive to the body.
“It’s all the other things in tobacco. There’s smoke and tar and carbon monoxide that causes cancer, causes heart attacks and strokes,” he said.
That is why doctors strongly encourage persistence when trying to quit.
“It’s actually a fact that the more times you try, the more likely you are to be successful eventually. So it’s important to keep trying even if you struggle a few times,” Reznikoff said.
He says people seem to benefit from having frank conversations with their doctor about the challenge, and the options.
There are patches, lozenges and gums that contain nicotine, thus reducing the urge to have a cigarette. And it is likely your insurance will cover the cost.
“You could go to the local pharmacy and buy nicotine patch or nicotine gum over the counter, but you could save a lot of money on that if you got a prescription from your doc,” Reznikoff said.
And there is help online with the website smokefree.gov.
“They can send you free medications, so that’s nice,” he said. “You can sign up to get text reminders to your phone to remind you and encourage you to not smoke cigarettes.”
You can also get an app for your phone. And if you need to talk to someone about the urge to smoke, try 1-800-QUITNOW.
“One of the things we do, and one of the things I would encourage people to explore, is what options seems best for them,” Reznikoff said. “Give it a good try. And if it doesn’t work, you got other options.”
Reznikoff says high school experimentation with tobacco is decreasing, and we are seeing the lowest teen-smoking numbers ever.
And lung cancer cases are also decreasing. Reznikoff believes the social pressure to quit smoking is having an impact, as well as the rising cost of cigarettes.