Why is it so hard to quit tobacco?

Smoking is a powerful addiction. Quitting takes practice, patience and support.

Most of Providence Health & Services - Oregon Region has become tobacco free as of Nov. 20, 2008, to ensure the health and safety of patients, visitors and employees.

On Jan. 1, 2009, the Oregon Workplace Law banned smoking in all public places including restaurants and bars. If you have been thinking about quitting smoking, there is no better time than now.

Quit for yourself and quit for those you love. If you quit smoking now, you will cut your risk of a heart attack in half in and save nearly $1,600* in just one year.

Don't try to quit alone - get help from your doctor (medications double your success rate) and enlist the help of your family, friends, and co-workers.

You can do it and we can help.

Why is it so hard?

The answer lies with nicotine, one of the most addictive substances. With each puff of a cigarette, nicotine goes to your brain to give you pleasure and calmness, says Meera Jain, M.D. with Providence Health & Services. Within a few hours of not smoking, your brain signals messages for intense cravings and you get withdrawal which is both mental and physical. Both need to be addressed to quit smoking. Symptoms of withdrawal include dizziness, anxiety, irritability, depression, poor concentration, sleep disturbance, fatigue and headaches. "Those unpleasant symptoms make it hard to quit," says Dr. Jain.

Toss the tobacco

Talk to your doctor about wanting to quit. Ask him or her about effective prescription medicines, including nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), bupropion SR (Zyban®) or varenicline (Chantix TM), which all work directly on the brain, helping reduce the urge to smoke.

"Smoking is both a physical and behavioral addiction" explains Dr. Jain. Give yourself the best chance at quitting and treat both with medications and programs that support behavior change such as one-on-one counseling, a support group or a class. You will learn successful tips such as picking a quit date, choosing a medication plan, telling friends and family, getting rid of all cigarettes, using chewing gum, hard candy or veggies (instead of having a cigarette in your mouth), getting regular exercise to ward off anxiety and weight gain and reducing or avoiding alcohol to name a few.

We can help

Providence Health Plan members can take advantage of discounted smoking cessation resources. Members can access award-winning support groups, telephone counseling and classes with free medications. See the sidebar at the right for more information.