Exercise Your Power over Tobacco during World No Tobacco Day 31 May 2016

  • Published
  • By Stuart Bapties
  • HAWC
Most of us are aware of how much is being paid to support a tobacco habit in the area of increased health risk, but do you know how much it's actually hurting your financial health? At an average cost of around $6 a pack on military installations, a pack-a-day smoker spends more than $2,000 a year just for cigarettes.  Plus, there's the cost of lighters, gas to make emergency runs to the store, and extra cleaning and repair bills for their home, car, clothing, and teeth.  Smokeless tobacco products put a similar dent in tobacco user's wallets.  Figure out how much you are spending on tobacco and it can be a great motivator and positive incentive for setting a quit date and doing something else with that money. 

Every year, on May 31, The World Health Organization and partners across the globe, observe World No Tobacco Day.  This is a day to highlight and reflect on the health risks associated with tobacco use, advocate for effective policies to reduce tobacco exposure and think of ways that tobacco affects tobacco users and those around them.  What are some reasons to support World No Tobacco Day by not using tobacco for just one day?  Well for one thing, tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that over 400,000 Americans die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke every year and another 8.6 million have a serious illness caused by smoking.  Notice that those numbers don't just include tobacco users because the harmful effects of smoking don't end with the smoker; more than 126 million nonsmoking Americans are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke and it has been proven that even brief exposure can be dangerous because nonsmokers inhale the same carcinogens and toxins in cigarette smoke as smokers. 

Secondhand smoke exposure causes serious disease and death, including heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults and sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more frequent and severe asthma attacks in children.  The CDC states that "each year, primarily because of exposure to secondhand smoke, an estimated 3,000 nonsmoking Americans die of lung cancer, more than 46,000 die of heart disease, and between 150,000 to 300,000 children younger than 18 months have lower respiratory tract infections.  Coupled with this enormous health toll is the significant economic burden of tobacco use -- more than $193 billion per year in medical expenditures and lost productivity."

Quitting tobacco is also a great way to help you get fit and if you decide to tackle quitting and getting fitter together, you can actually boost your rate of success for both.  We've always known that quitting tobacco improves exercise performance and research proves that exercise also helps increase the chances of quitting tobacco.  Resistance training and aerobic exercise or even just walking during smoking cessation have proven to boost success in those trying to overcome addiction to tobacco. So, if tobacco has a strong hold on you, resolve to break its grip and take your fitness to a whole new level at the same time. 

By doing moderate exercise for as little as 10 minutes when the cravings strike, you can reduce cravings and help avoid relapse. Exercise has also been found to help mood swings, boredom, and stress levels. Adding an exercise program to your daily routine can also help eliminate worry about weight gain because exercise speeds up your metabolism and keeps your hands busy -- away from both cigarettes and candy bars.

Once you stop using tobacco and start exercising, you'll start to feel better  --  your blood circulation will improve and you'll feel an increase in energy.  Regular exercise can also help speed up the repair of any lung tissue damage caused by nicotine and the other deadly chemicals in tobacco so soon you'll be able to breathe easier and you'll lower your risk of injury and hospitalization.

Without tobacco, you can fast-track your fitness training even more.  During physical exertion, your brain releases endorphins that make you feel more naturally alert, similar to the effect of drinking a cup of coffee.  You'll find that your endurance increases and you'll perform better at work, enjoy a higher quality of living and score better on your fitness assessments.  Before long, you'll be feeling good about your physical condition, boost your self-image and pride in your accomplishment and become more resilient.

Employees and dependents at Robins with either TRICARE or any of the existing Federal Employee Health Benefits Plans are 100 percent covered for Tobacco Cessation programs to include use of medications at no cost. Federal employees simply let their insurance company know that they are engaging in a tobacco cessation program and they will be able to obtain the prescription from their doctor and present it to their retail pharmacy. There is no copay, no deductible and no dollar limit.  

For more information, visit www.opm.gov/quitsmoking or call the Robins Health and Wellness Center at 478-222-6907. 

TRICARE beneficiaries can call the HAWC at 478-222-6907 and speak to the base Tobacco Cessation counselor, who will schedule a class and facilitate having medications ordered through the 78th Medical Group or they can speak with their provider during the next medical appointment. If you are seeing a civilian provider in town and obtain a prescription, you can have it delivered free of charge through the TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery Service or you can call the base Health and Wellness Center at 478-222-6907 and we will assist you with obtaining the medications through the 78th MDG Tobacco Cessation Program. For more information on TRICARE benefits, visit www.tricare.mil or call the HAWC.

One thing to keep in mind is that evidence shows those using medications in their QUIT attempts are 44 percent more likely to be successful when they combine it with tobacco cessation counseling which is free of charge to everyone with access to the base and available every Wednesday from 11a.m. to noon at the HAWC.