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One of the best things you can do for your health is to quit smoking or using other kinds of tobacco. It isn’t easy, but it can be done. Added bonus – people who quit smoking before the age of 50 cut their risk of dying in the next 15 years by half.*
With that in mind, the American Cancer Society hosts the Great American Smokeout every year on the third Thursday of November. The event is used as a way to encourage smokers to take action and plan to quit, even to quit smoking that day! But you don't have to wait until November to make a commitment to quit. You can resolve to it in January, or make a promise to yourself for another important date in your life. The important thing is to set a date and get support.
You may be wondering why it’s so important to kick the habit even after you’ve been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Like many other conditions, COPD is a disease that can worsen over time. Quitting smoking can slow this process. Smoking causes inflammation in the lungs, which means less oxygen is able to flow through. Smoking also damages air sacs in the lungs and causes your lungs to lose elasticity, resulting in difficulty breathing and shortness of breath. You may experience coughing, shortness of breath and even wheezing now. Continuing to smoke will cause even more damage to your lungs. As a result, your symptoms become severe sooner than if you quit. Your symptoms could quickly get in the way of performing everyday activities like taking a shower or cleaning your home, for instance.
Studies show that smokers are more likely to become sick with the flu than non-smokers. Smoking also increases your chance of getting pneumonia. Healthy people may be able to fight off the flu or pneumonia and make a full recovery. When you have COPD these illnesses can be very serious and may lead to major complications.
Talk with your doctor about quitting smoking. There are many resources and aids available today that can help you successfully give up the habit.
Your health plan may help you quit by covering the cost of medicine and counseling to support your efforts. Even if you’re not ready to quit, knowing your costs will be covered may inspire you to do so in the future. Call the number on the back of your member ID card to learn more about your available benefits for smoking cessation.
*Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012
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