Source: Loyola University Medicine

whatdoctorsknow.com

A recent cigarette tax hike in Illinois is making smoking dangerous to people's physical and financial health. The additional economic pressures are compelling people to quit smoking. In fact, 70 percent of people who smoke want to quit and 50 percent have tried in the last year, but the pull of nicotine keeps them tethered to the habit.

"Nicotine really is that addictive. It's a hard battle, but every one that we win, including increasing the cost of cigarettes through taxes, brings individual smokers to the tipping point where the pain of smoking overcomes the joys of nicotine and they quit," said Philip McAndrew, M.D., a Loyola University Health system internal medicine physician and an occupational health expert. "The tipping point could be a life-altering health experience, but often it's the impact on the pocketbook that makes people really consider quitting."

In Chicago, alone, it can easily cost a person $300 a month to smoke. This is more than twice as expensive as a monthly prescription of medications to help people stop smoking.

"Even if a person's insurance won't cover medications, it costs $65 a month for Zyban. The cost of nicotine patches is only $100 a month," McAndrew noted.

That financial impact can be enough to encourage some to quit. But even when a person has reached that tipping point, it's only the beginning.

"To quit, you need the time and a teamwork approach. Don't expect to do it overnight and you need a team of support around you to cheer you on. That team captain should be your physician," McAndrew said. "Nicotine is too strong an opponent for someone to go it alone. You need that team to help keep you on track when everything inside of you wants to go back."

McAndrew offered some tips to help you quit:

1. Build a team

"You can't do this alone. Nicotine releases serotonin and we love that feeling, so you will need people around you to support you. You will need people who are with you in all areas of your life, especially in places that make you think of smoking," McAndrew said. The team should include:

Your physician

Friends who are supportive of you quitting

Co-workers

Family

2. Set a specific date

It's important to be specific on a date you want to quit but also give yourself time to prepare. It is recommended to set a date two to four weeks away so you have time to prepare your environment and your mind to quit.

3. Prepare for Quit Day

The moment you decide to quit start thinking about what changes you need to make and take an inventory of what you need to do to limit the temptation of nicotine.