Despite knowing how bad it is for our bodies, about 40 million Americans continue to smoke, making it the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the world.
Thursday Nov. 17 is the "Great American Smokeout," a national effort to get people to quit.
Dr. Kevin Ferentz is lead physician at GBMC’s Owings Mills Primary Care Office. He said most people associate smoking with heart disease, lung disease and lung cancer. But, cigarette smoke also adversely affects every organ in our body.
“Our brains, our eyes, ears, nose and throat. It causes 40 percent of all cancer. That a remarkable number,” he said.
And kids are continuing to pick up the bad habit. Approximately 4,800 kids a day start smoking. Dr. Ferentz said a lot of it has to do with what they see on TV.
“Tobacco companies pay the producers of movies to put smoking characters in movies, even if it doesn’t advance the plot at all. Just so there are these subliminal messages that people can smoke and should be smoking,” Dr. Ferentz said.
When it comes to quitting, there are some important steps to take.
- Figure out why you smoke and what you are going to do instead of smoking any time there is a trigger.
- Tell everyone you are going to stop smoking.
- Set a date in the near future to quit. Pick a holiday, birthday, or anniversary.
- In the week leading up to your quit date, buy different brands of cigarettes every day. It gives you your nicotine but it doesn’t taste good.
When it comes to vaping, Dr. Ferentz said the big issue is that we don’t have much information about it.
“It’s a huge issue and it’s the biggest issue for kids the total number of kids that are using tobacco has not changed at all. They’re just going from smoking cigarettes to vaping and the problem with vaping is we don’t really know a whole lot about it because it’s completely unregulated. We have no idea what’s in the smoke, we don’t know if it’s safe for someone else to be breathing in next door, and it’s still an addiction to nicotine,” he said.