March 1, 2005
Why Quit Now?
"I started smoking as a kid and have been smoking over 20 years. What good does it do to quit now?" If remodeling or retrofitting extends the life of old buildings, wouldn't the same be true for workers?
A recent study by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) shows that quitting smoking can add years to your life, even if you're middle-aged. Almost 6,000 older smokers who had some abnormal lung function were followed for 14 years. Participants were assigned to either a smoking cessation group or were given no special services. The smoking cessation group received a 10-week stop smoking program with nicotine gum.
After 5 years, about 22% of the stop-smoking group had stayed quit. After 11 years, almost 90% of them were still smoke-free.
Only 5% of those in the other group managed to quit after 5 years.
After more than 14 years the death rate among the group offered a stop-smoking program was 15% less than the group given no services.
Those who remained smoke-free had nearly half the death rate of those who continued smoking!
All of the participants in the study had mild lung disease, which could develop into more serious lung disease. Even those who had quit for only a short time showed a large decrease in deaths due to lung cancer; deaths due to heart disease also decreased. One researcher pointed out "This study shows the substantial impact smoking cessation programs can have … even if small numbers of participants successfully quit."
Do you want to quit? Talk to your doctor about stop smoking programs in your area. Call the California Smokers Helpline (1-800-NO-BUTTS) for help.
Source: "Annals of Internal Medicine," Vol. 142, issue 4, Feb. 15, 2005