Breathe Well – Be Smoking and Tobacco-Free

Thinking about quitting?

With the USD campus being smoke and tobacco-free, you may be thinking about your own smoking and tobacco use. Campus policy isn’t the only reason to reconsider your habits. The list of health problems related to tobacco use is extensive. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease in the United States and is linked to a variety of cancers and lung disorders.

In addition to causing disease in almost every organ of the body, smoking can cut your lifespan by up to 10 years. From a wellness perspective, quitting smoking is a smart move that offers long-lasting health benefits.

Understanding Tobacco Addiction: Nicotine and the Body

Nicotine is found naturally in tobacco and it is super addictive. The nicotine is absorbed through your lungs and carried to every part of your body along with carbon monoxide and other toxins.Smoking affects your whole body.

Given its reach within the body, it’s not surprising that tobacco addiction manifests itself through many physical and mental symptoms. Quitting or cutting back means a person will need to be prepared to manage withdrawal symptoms which may include:

  • Dizziness, headaches, sleep disturbances, increased appetite, fatigue, and restlessness
  • Strong cravings, anxiety, irritability, depression, and poor concentration

Did you know?

  • Approximately 500,000 people in America die prematurely from smoke-related disease every year and on average, smokers die 13-14 years earlier than their non-smoking counterparts.
  • Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is very addictive. Even some of the brands sold as “nicotine-free” have been shown to contain nicotine along with other nasty toxins (think formaldehyde and lead!) just for starters.
  • One hour of hookah smoking delivers as much carbon monoxide to your body as a whole pack of cigarettes and you are inhaling anywhere from 100-200 times the volume of smoke inhaled from a single cigarette. Uhm, gross.
  • Chew, plugs, wads (the name alone!) snuff, snus are all smokeless tobacco products that are chewed, sucked on or sniffed. They can be directly linked to mouth cancer, gum disease and really gnarly oral hygiene. We’re not kidding – one of the common side-effects is black hairy tongue. 
  • If the health consequences aren’t enough to get you thinking, consider that the tobacco industry is responsible for 500,000 acres of deforestation per year and cigarette butts are the most littered item in the US and the world. Each year, an estimated 1.69 billion pounds of cigarette butts are littered worldwide.

Assessing your Use – How dependent are you?

Circle your response. Write the points in the SCORE column & total. A = 0 points B = 1 point C = 2 points SCORE
1 How soon after you wake do you smoke your first cigarette? After 30 minutes Within 30 minutes xx
2 Do you find it difficult to refrain from smoking in places where it is forbidden, such as the library, theater, or doctor’s office? No Yes xx
3 Which of all the cigarettes you smoke in a day is the most satisfying? Any other than the first one in the morning The first one in the morning xx
4 How many cigarettes a day do you smoke? 1-15 16-25 More than 25
5 Do you smoke more during the morning than during the rest of the day? No Yes xx
6 Do you smoke when you are ill (i.e., you are in bed most of the day)? No Yes xx
7 Does the brand you smoke have a low, medium, or high nicotine content? Low
0.4 mg
0.5–0.9 mg
1.0 mg
8 How often do you inhale the smoke from your cigarette? Never Sometimes Always
A score of 4 points or more suggests you may be dependent on nicotine. TOTAL

I want to QUIT! The benefits of becoming smoking and tobacco-free! Breathe Easy at USD.

You rock! Let’s do this. Your health will improve within minutes of smoking your last cigarette not to mention with every day that passes in the years to come.

Check out all the awesome things that start happening in your body immediately after your last cigarette.

20 minutes Heart rate and blood pressure drop
12 hours Carbon monoxide level in the blood drops to normal
2-12 weeks Circulation improves and lung function increases
1-9 months Coughing and shortness of breath decrease
1 year Risk of coronary heart disease is about half that of a smoker
5 years Stroke and cervical cancer risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker and
risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are about
half that of a smoker
10 years Risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker and the
risk of cancer of the larynx and pancreas decreases
15 years The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker’s

Strategies for Breaking the Addiction: now that you know how awesome quitting will be, consider your strategy!

There is no right way to quit smoking. Studies show that the most effective quit plans involve a combination of treatment and support that address both the physical and mental addiction to nicotine. Options include:

Breathe easy at USD.

  1. Smoking Cessation Services – individualized counseling involving assessment, education, and the implementation of behavior change strategies to help break the addiction and stay smoke-free.
  2. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) – products that help relieve some of the physical withdrawal symptoms experienced when quitting by providing a dose of nicotine (i.e., nicotine patch, gum, nasal spray, inhalers, and lozenges).
    • Your smoking cessation counselor at CHWP can help you determine if NRT products are right for you.
    • Free NRT products (i.e., gum or lozenges) and “Quit Kits” are available to students through CHWP and the Student Health Center (SHC).
  3. Prescription Medications – medication that reduces symptoms of nicotine withdrawal by acting on chemicals and/or nicotine receptors in the brain (i.e., Bupropion/Zyban or Chantix).
    • Your smoking cessation counselor at CHWP can help you determine if prescription medications are right for you.
    • Should you wish to pursue medication, your provider at the Student Health Center can offer a prescription as well as regular check-up’s to monitor your use.
  4. Support from Family, Friends, and Others – tell family and friends about your plans and goals so they can support your efforts. Attend Nicotine Anonymous meetings to gain support from other smokers trying to quit.

Strategies to Improve Your Chances of Success

  1. Make the decision to quit – think about why you want to quit. Explore your own motivation and commitment to doing so.
  2. Set a “Quit Date” and make a plan – decide when you would like to quit and how to do it.
  3. Deal with withdrawal symptoms – address both the physical and mental withdrawal symptoms you are experiencing via smoking cessation, nicotine replacement therapy, medication, or other methods.
  4. Stay tobacco-free (maintenance) – determine how you will cope with strong cravings and slips.

And to really quit for good, consider these factors:

  • Avoid temptation – avoid situations, people, and places that may tempt you to smoke. Spend more time in smoke-free areas and keep cigarettes, lighters, and ashtrays out of sight. Ask friends and family members that smoke NOT to smoke around you.
  • Change your habits – instead of smoking, try to explore some new habits and activities (e.g., running, cooking, painting, surfing, etc.). Drink more water and avoid alcohol or coffee.
    • For your mouth – use lollipops, gum, straws, or carrot sticks as substitutes
    • For your hands – keep your hands busy by exercising, doing needlework, fiddling with clips or other small items, or reading a book
    • Relax and Breathe – use diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, and meditation to help manage stress. Breathe deeply and visualize your lungs filling with fresh, clean air.
    • Delay – when you get the urge to smoke, try to wait for at least 10 minutes, as the feeling will often pass
  • Reward yourself – because quitting isn’t easy, it’s important to reward yourself for your efforts. Use the money typically spent on cigarettes to do something fun or buy a weekly treat. Plan something enjoyable to do everyday.
– American Cancer Society, 2014

We are proud of you and admire your choice to change your smoking habits! We know this isn’t an easy thing to do but we are here to support you! You’ve got this!