How one image got a lifelong smoker to quit
St. Joseph’s/Candler offers a Comprehensive Tobacco Cessation Program to provide support, resources to stop smoking
Jean Love smoked for 50 years. She remembers from as early as six-years-old, her mother smoking around her. Jean started smoking at 16.
She tried quitting later in life cold turkey or with nicotine patches. She never made it more than five months.
That was until April 2017 when Jean saw a photo. It was her first one-on-one session with the St. Joseph’s/Candler Comprehensive Tobacco Cessation Program and Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist Alix Schnibben, PharmD, BCACP, Clinical Pharmacy Specialist.
“The first class got me when Alix showed me a photo and told me what all was in cigarettes,” says Jean, 67, of Savannah. “I don’t care for aviation fuel, toilet bowl cleaner and all that in my body. It’s crazy. It’s enough to really make you want to gag.”
That image listed just some of the 4,000 chemicals that are in every cigarette. It was what started motivating Jean to stop smoking. She went on to have eight one-on-one sessions with Schnibben and was prescribed Chantix, a smoking cessation medication to help people stop smoking.
The SJ/C Comprehensive Tobacco Cessation Program gives those who want to stop smoking support and resources needed to quit for good. The program includes one-on-one counseling sessions and group sessions. Schnibben also can prescribe smoking cessation medications, if deemed necessary for the patient. Learn more about the program at sjchs.org/stopsmoking.
Today, Jean remains smoke-free and says she feels much better. She can tell she is able to breathe better and other than some initial irritability says the one-on-one sessions and medication are all worth it to be able to quit smoking.
“My time with Alix was great. She kept me motivated and gave me pep talks. She kept me on my toes, and I appreciated that,” Jean says. “If you are worried about being on medication, don’t. I praise Chantix. You are only going to take the medication for a short while, but if you keep smoking, you are not going to live very long.”
Why you should quit right now
There are immediate rewards to quitting smoking and benefits that will impact you overtime. Some of the things that will improve day-to-day living include:
- Breath smells better
- Stained teeth get whiter
- Bad smell in clothes and hair go away
- Yellow fingers and fingernails disappear
- Food tastes better
- Sense of smell returns to normal
- Everyday activities (such as climbing stairs or light housework) no longer leave you out of breath
“All the damage that you have done with smoking can be reversed and most people don’t realize it,” Schnibben says. “They think, ‘I’ve already started smoking. I can’t go back.’ Yes, you can go back.”
Overtime, life-changing benefits will begin to happen:
- 20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
- 12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
- 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation improves and your lung function increases
- 1 to 9 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) start to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs and reduce the risk of infection
- 1 year after quitting: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s.
- 5 years after quitting: Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder are cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after two to five years.
- 10 years after quitting: The risk of dying from lung cancer is half that of a person who is still smoking. The risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases.
- 15 years after quitting: The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.
And that’s not to mention quitting smoking lowers the risk of diabetes, lets blood vessels work better and helps the heart and lungs.
How to get help quitting
Stopping smoking isn’t easy because it’s a physical and mental addiction. You don’t have to do it alone.
The St. Joseph’s/Candler Tobacco Cessation Program is designed for any tobacco user, including those who smoke tobacco, those who use smokeless tobacco, such as dippers and chewers, and even those who use e-cigarettes. A certified specialist can help you find your motivation and put a plan in place to stop smoking.
“I still get calls from Alix and others at Candler to this day to see how I am doing,” Jean Love says. “They are my cheerleaders. I’d hate to disappoint them if I had to tell them I started back. They keep me on track.”
Anyone interested in participating in either the one-on-one sessions or a group class can call 912-819-7619 or fill out this contact form. A specialist will answer any questions, coordinate referrals and call insurance companies for interested participants.