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Ways and Reasons to Quit Smoking

Dr. Jay D. Kerr, Family Medicine, Adventist Health Physicians Network Smoking

At the height of the tobacco epidemic in the early 1960s, people in the United States were smoking 4,166 cigarettes a year. Fast forward to 2011, and that number has fallen to 1,232 cigarettes a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Some of the reasons people are quitting are the health risks associated with smoking, such as lung cancer, heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, premature wrinkling of the skin, eye and gum disease, birth defects and more. Another reason for the decline is the high cost of cigarettes. What once cost 25 cents a pack, now costs as much as $5.

So why is it so hard to quit smoking? Nicotine!!! This chemical is highly addictive and if not fed on a regular basis, leads to withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, irritability, anxiety and insomnia. But these physical symptoms only last about a month after quitting and can be controlled with proper medication or counseling.

Two questions I have my patients ask themselves, when determining the severity of their withdrawals:

1. How soon after you wake up do you smoke your first cigarette?

An answer of 30 minutes, would indicate a high dependence.

2. How many cigarettes do you smoke a day?

An answer of 20 cigarettes, would indicate a high dependence.

If your answers to the above questions indicate a high dependence on nicotine, it may be very difficult to quit smoking. In this case, I would encourage you to speak to your doctor for help.

Quitting is no easy feat, but there are simple steps you can take:

-Make the decision to quit

-Set a “Quit Day” and tell your friends and family the date

-Create a plan

-Deal with withdrawal

-Stay tobacco-free

Help is also available online and through a hotline. The state of California offers extensive counseling and support through the toll free number 1-800-NO-BUTTS and online at The American Cancer Society sponsors the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November every year (November 19 this year), and this would be a great time to set as a quit date. More information is available on their website at

Adventist Health has its own list of resources at to support tobacco cessation. The network also will cover the membership fee of area residents who would like to enroll in the American Lung Association’s online Freedom from Smoking course. Community members may apply for the assistance

When you think about the difficulties of quitting, it’s important to consider the dangers of not quitting. Good luck and my best wishes on your efforts to quit.

Dr. Kerr’s Bio: Dr. Jay D. Kerr is a board-certified Family Medicine physician with Adventist Health Physicians Network. He graduated from the George Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Kerr is fluent in Spanish. He may be reached at the Lacey Medical Plaza, 1524 W. Lacey Blvd., Suite 203, with a phone number of (559)-537-0370.