Heart Smart Living
Heart Smart Living

Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.

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Quitting Tobacco

Government releases the latest stats on smoking.

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Stamped out cigarette.Smoking is an enormous public health problem, contributing to nearly half a million deaths each year in this country alone. As many as 50,000 will die from complications of second hand smoke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 8.6 million Americans are living with a chronic illness caused by tobacco, including heart disease, lung disease, and cancer. All of this comes at a tremendous cost of nearly $100 billion dollars in health care and another $100 billion in lost productivity. It's no wonder the government has a vested interest in getting folks to quit.

In December 2010, the CDC launched the Healthy People 2020 program, with the objective of improving health and quality of life for all Americans by raising awareness of preventable illnesses. Over 600 objectives, with 1,200 separate measures, were developed.  One major objective is to reduce the prevalence of smoking to 12 percent or lower.

A recent report from the CDC finds that smoking rates have indeed dropped, although not nearly enough. From 2005 to 2010, smoking prevalence dropped from 20.9 percent to 19.3 percent. While that doesn’t sound like much, it means that there are 3 million fewer smokers now than five years ago. The study also found that smokers were smoking fewer cigarettes than in years past. Those who quit were more likely to be younger than 45 and less likely to live in poverty. Hispanics, Asians, and those living in the Northeast or Midwest were also more likely to have given up the smokes. The report didn’t offer any insight as to why these differences might exist.

If you’re a smoker, chances are that your life will be cut short by your habit, your finances will be strained, and your quality of life will suffer. It’s not easy to quit, but it can be done. Nicotine patches or gum can be bought over the counter, and work for some people.  See your doctor to find out what medical options might be appropriate for you. If that’s not the route you wish to follow, take a chance on hypnotherapy or even acupuncture. Whatever you do, don’t give up. It’s never too late to quit.

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Tags: Risk Factors for Heart Disease , Tobacco

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About the Author


MD, FACC

Dr. Samaan is an acclaimed cardiologist, writer, and heart health educator.

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