Medical Advice: Find your ‘inner quitter’

WE ARE WELL ON OUR WAY into the new year and, as usual, many have begun their long list of New Year’s resolutions. Despite best intentions, some of those resolutions have probably fallen by the wayside. However, here is one that’s worth the extra effort this year — quit smoking.

Smokers are told time and time again that smoking is bad for them. For some, this advice goes in one ear and out the other. Others find it hard to locate their “inner quitter” and lack the conviction to quit once and for all. Here are some eye-opening facts that may provide the extra motivation they are looking for to quit this new year.

Did you know that tobacco is the leading cause of disability, disease, and preventable death in the United States?

• Smoking causes coronary heart disease, which is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. Those who smoke are two to four times more likely to experience coronary heart disease.

• Smoking also causes lung cancer. Men who smoke are 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers, and women who smoke are 13 times more likely than non-smokers.

• Lung disease such as COPD, emphysema, bronchitis, and chronic airway obstruction also are harmful effects of smoking. Those who smoke are 12 to 13 times more likely to die from chronic obstructive lung disease, such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

• On average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than non-smokers.

So how can we avoid these awful diseases? The answer is simple, but not easy: Quit smoking. Quitting is good for your overall health and the health of people around you. Here are some encouraging facts about quitting that can benefit your overall health and bring you one step closer to quitting:

• TWENTY MINUTES after you quit smoking, your blood pressure decreases.

• EIGHT HOURS after you quit smoking, your blood oxygen level returns to normal.

• THREE MONTHS after you quit smoking, your lung function improves up to 30 percent.

• ONE YEAR after you quit smoking, your risk of heart attack is cut in half.

• TEN YEARS after you quit smoking, your risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a smoker’s.

• FIFTEEN YEARS after you quit smoking, your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as non-smokers.

It is important to feel good about the decision to quit smoking. Tobacco Free Florida offers three free and easy ways to quit:

1. CALL: Call the Florida Quitline at 1-877-U-CAN-NOW to speak with a Quit Coach who will help assess a user’s addiction and help create a personalized quit plan.

2. CLICK: Enroll in the Web Coach®, which will help to create a web-based quit plan unique to each individual user, visit

3. COME IN: Register for group classes at your local Area Health Education Center (AHEC) by calling 1-877-848-6696.
Since 2007, more than 93,400 Floridians have successfully quit smoking by using one of these free services. Make the commitment to find your “inner quitter” today so you can be on your way to a healthier New Year. For more information, please visit


by DR. ULYEE CHOE, Director of FDOH-Polk

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Ulyee Choe, an infectious disease physician, serves the community as director of the Florida Department of Health in Polk County (FDOH-Polk) and as a Polk County Medical Association member. For more information about FDOH-Polk, visit


WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of The Financial Cost of Smoking by State. To encourage the more than 60 million tobacco smokers in the U.S. to kick the dangerous habit, WalletHub’s analysis estimated the financial cost of smoking to be roughly $1.4 million per smoker over a lifetime.

The Financial Cost of Smoking in Florida (1=Lowest, 25=Avg.):

• Total cost per smoker (rank) – $1,372,374 (26th)

• Tobacco cost per smoker (rank) – $996,557 (24th)

• Health care cost per smoker (rank) – $171,447 (36th)

• Income loss per smoker (rank) – $187,158 (12th)

• Other costs per smoker (rank) – $17,212 (51st)

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