In this article:
- If you smoke and want to quit, the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 18 can help.
- For those who qualify, Swedish offers lung cancer screenings and support for smokers who want to quit.
- Smoking is the single largest cause of preventable death in the United States.
On Nov. 18, thousands of people across the country will take a major step toward ending their tobacco use by participating in the Great American Smokeout.
Anyone who’s ever done it will tell you that quitting tobacco isn’t easy. Whether it’s cigarettes, e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco, quitting requires time, persistence and a commitment to a profound life change. And on many days, the short-term pain might seem to exceed the long-term benefits—but it doesn’t have to. If you need more support, there’s help at Swedish.
Nurse Practitioner Emily Grob runs Swedish's smoking cessation program at our Thoracic Surgery Clinic. Emily works with patients who qualify for lung cancer screenings based on their age and smoking history. Through her work helping people quit every day, Emily understands the challenges of giving up tobacco, the need for support and the importance of collecting the small victories that come with the process.
“We offer a lot of services under the smoking cessation, lung cancer screening umbrella. The lung cancer screening program serves to monitor qualified patients over time, and we help patients quit smoking through the process of shared decision making. We try to dig into the issue that may have kept patients from quitting in the past,” she says. “We offer a number of options to help, including [nicotine replacement] patches, medication and individual therapy. We also refer for group support.”
Whatever form of tobacco you want to give up, the Smokeout is an opportunity to turn one tobacco-free day into the first of many, and the first step on the road to a longer, healthier life. Your Smokeout can include not smoking for the entire day, planning for a future quit date or marking Nov. 18 as your quit date.
And there’s plenty of hard evidence to support your personal reasons for quitting. According to the American Cancer Society, tobacco use is the largest single cause of preventable death in the United States. On average, people who smoke die 10 years earlier than those who don’t, and tobacco use is associated with diseases that can damage nearly every organ in the body, including your lungs, heart, blood vessels, reproductive organs, mouth, skin, eyes and bones.
Additionally, there’s evidence that smokers are more likely to have worse outcomes from COVID-19, with a higher risk of death in patients who have a smoking-related disease like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease and a history of stroke. A large study conducted last year in the United Kingdom (Hopkinson NS, Rossi N, El-Sayed Moustafa J, et al Current smoking and COVID-19 risk: results from a population symptom app in over 2.4 million people Thorax 2021;76:714-722.)found that smokers were more likely to report the classic triad of COVID-19 symptoms, including cough, fever and breathlessness, and smokers who tested positive for COVID-19 were almost twice as likely to require hospitalization than non-smokers.
“I have had patients with emphysema and cancer develop COVID-19; some have not survived and some who did survive never fully recovered their prior health and remain limited by shortness of breath and oxygen dependence,” says pulmonologist George Pappas, M.D., director of Swedish’s COVID-19 Recovery Clinic.
Though habits sometimes feel stronger than facts, Nurse Practitioner Emily Grob urges patients not to give up on their pursuit of a tobacco-free life.
“We have had patients graduate from our programs and have seen real long-term success,” she says. “And when you quit smoking, the body begins to heal itself remarkably fast. You will see the benefits very quickly. There’s evidence that your heart rate and blood pressure drop within 20 minutes of quitting and circulation and lung function start to improve as soon as in two weeks, so it’s never too late to stop.”
Find a doctor
Do you or a family member need help quitting tobacco use? If you’re thinking about quitting, or your doctor has advised you to quit, Swedish can help. For more information about our lung cancer screening program or other programs contact Swedish Seattle Thoracic Surgery at 206-215-6800.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.