I have never been a smoker. But people who have smoked tell me that quitting is one of the most difficult things they’ve ever done. Tobacco is just so addictive.
Barack Obama knows too. Our 50-year-old President has been trying to quit for a long time and now, at his latest medical checkup, his doctor has declared he is officially a former smoker and no longer someone who even sneaks a cigarette now and then. Bravo! For a man who deals with the stresses of leading the Free World.
I have interviewed many lung specialists and their patients. They all say how tough it is to quit. Recently a veteran lung surgeon, Dr. Shari Meyerson, told me all the reasons her patients tell her they have been unable to quit smoking, and described how they got the support they needed to stop. You can find that discussion, “Why Quit Smoking?” here: http://goo.gl/6Drij
Fortunately, there are now so many tools to help you stop: nicotine replacement gum, pills to stop the craving, hypnosis, telephone counselors and support groups, and all sorts of other behavior modification techniques. Keeping an image of yourself as healthier and living longer can be a motivator too.
I remember how my mother, Ruth, quit in the 50s. She had been at least a pack-a-day smoker since she was a teenager. Cigarettes were in neat little holders throughout our house. Then one day as I came home from school I saw an ambulance by our front door.
Mom was being taken to the hospital. She had pneumonia and the doctor said smoking had played a role. It terrified my mom. As she recovered and was back at home she did not throw the cigarettes out. She would simply crave a cigarette and defer gratification. She’d tell herself, “Not now, later.”
Before long, later became tomorrow and the day after that. It must have taken tremendous determination to basically quit “cold turkey.” Now we have so much help.
The point is: quitting is something you must do for yourself and the people who care about you. They want you around them longer and if you smoke, the odds are, you won’t be. It’s that black and white.
So be like Obama and deal with the stresses of life in some other way -- maybe even play basketball! Just quit smoking, no matter what.
Congratulations Mr. President.
About the author: Andrew Schorr is a medical journalist, cancer survivor and founder of Patient Power, a one-of-a-kind company bringing in-depth information to patients with cancer and chronic illness. Audio and video programs, plus transcripts, help patients make informed decisions to support their health in partnership with their medical team.
Patient Power is at www.PatientPower.info and on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Schorr is also the author of “The Web Savvy Patient: An Insider's Guide to Navigating the Internet When Facing Medical Crisis" found at www.websavvypatient.com/
Interview, Shari L. Meyerson, MD, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, 11/08/11, “Why Quit Smoking?, http://goo.gl/6Drij
News story, Doctor Confirms President Has Quit Smoking. National Journal, 10/31/11, online, http://www.nationaljournal.com/whitehouse/doctor-confirms-president-has-quit-smoking-20111031
Edited by Jody Smith
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