JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- More people in the U.S. are addicted to nicotine than any other drug, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. More than 480,000 users die annually from cigarette smoke, and another 41,000 die from secondhand smoke exposure.
Tobacco smoke contains a deadly mix of more than 7,000 chemicals, 70 of which are known to cause cancer.
Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and affects a person’s overall health. Smoking increases the risk for heart disease by two to four times; for stroke by two to four times; and for lung cancer by 25 times. Smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in the body. It damages blood vessels and airways. It affects the gums, teeth, and bones. It’s a cause of type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. It causes emphysema. It increases the risk of cataracts. It can cause pregnancy complications, still birth, and sudden infant death syndrome.
More than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the U.S. If nobody smoked, one of every three cancer deaths in the U.S. would not happen.
People who stop smoking can greatly reduce their risk for disease and early death.
“Smoking rates have declined among sailors and Marines,” said Charlene Rees, Naval Hospital Jacksonville’s regional health promotion coordinator. “But we’re seeing an increase in vaping with e-cigarettes. We can help you quit, for immediate and long term benefits to you and your family.”
E-cigarettes - also called e-cigs, vapes, vape pens, or e-hookahs - are now the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. youth. E-cigarettes sometimes resemble pens, USB sticks, or other everyday items. And 40 percent of e-cigarette users, age 18 – 24, had never been cigarette smokers.
E-cigarette aerosol - which users breathe from the device, and then exhale - can contain substances that harm the body, including cancer-causing chemicals and heavy metals like lead. Most e-cigarettes also contain nicotine, which has known health effects.
Some smokers wonder if e-cigarettes can help them quit. To date, the few studies are mixed. According to the CDC, most adults don’t quit, and instead continue to use both cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Scientists still have a lot to learn on this topic.
The CDC advises e-cigarettes are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who don’t currently use tobacco products. If you’ve never smoked or used other tobacco products or e-cigarettes, don’t start.
Chewing tobacco is no better than smoking. Many smokeless tobacco products - like chew and dip - contain cancer-causing chemicals, including a radioactive element from tobacco fertilizer. Smokeless tobacco causes cancer of the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas. It can cause gum disease. It increases the risk for death from heart disease and stroke. It can also cause pregnancy complications.
Secondhand smoke contains the same 7,000 chemicals that a smoker inhales. Hundreds are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer. Even brief exposure can be harmful. Secondhand smoke contributes to 41,000 deaths among non-smoking adults and 400 infants each year.
Quitting tobacco provides powerful short- and long-term benefits. For example, 20 minutes after quitting smoking, the heart rate and blood pressure reduces. Twelve hours after quitting, the body’s carbon monoxide level drops to normal. Two weeks to three months after quitting, blood circulation improves and lung function increases. One year after quitting, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of someone who still smokes, and the risk of heart attack drops dramatically.
NH Jacksonville’s Wellness Center is ready to help, with medication, gum, classes, and counseling. Services are available to active duty service members, retirees, and families.
The Wellness Center offers one-on-one counseling by walk-in or appointment, and group classes each week on Mondays at 9 a.m. and Tuesdays at 2:30 p.m. The Wellness Center sees about 1,500 patients each year at the hospital and five branch health clinics, and has a successful long-term quit rate.
The time is now. Get quit. Visit the hospital’s Wellness Center next to Naval Air Station Jacksonville’s fitness center or call 904-542-5292.
Go to TRICARE.mil/ucanquit2 to find tools like quit plans, savings calculators, and live chat.
Find out more at Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center at www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcphc.
Naval Hospital Jacksonville and Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Jacksonville deliver quality health care, in an integrated system of readiness and health. NH Jacksonville includes five branch health clinics across Florida and Georgia. It serves 163,000 active-duty and retired sailors, Marines, soldiers, airmen, guardsmen, and their families, including 84,000 patients who are enrolled with a primary care manager. To find out more, visit www.med.navy.mil/sites/navalhospitaljax.
For more news from Naval Hospital Jacksonville, visit www.navy.mil/local/nhjax/.