Today is the Great American Smokeout

Today is the Great American Smokeout, an annual event when the American Cancer Society encourages everyone to quit smoking. This event helps to make people aware of the dangers of using tobacco products as well as the tools that are available to help them quit smoking.

The Great American Smokeout started in 1970 in a small town in Massachusetts. People were asked to give up smoking for one day and to take the money that they would have spent on cigarettes and donate it to a local high school scholarship fund. The event spread to other cities both large and small and eventually led to legislation that bans smoking in workplaces, restaurants, and other public spaces both indoors and outdoors.

Smoking  is responsible for one in five deaths in the United States today. Lung cancer is the leading cause of death in both men and women. Smoking is also the cause of cancer of the larynx, mouth, sinuses, throat, esophagus, and the bladder. The number of people who smoke has dramatically decreased in the United States since the anti-smoking campaigns began. In 1965 it was estimated that over 40 percent of the population were smokers and today that number is around 18 percent.

Smokers have the best chances of quitting if they use at least two of the following methods:

• Smoking Cessation Groups
• Nicotine substitute products
• Support from family and friends
• Telephone quit lines
• Counseling
• Prescription medications that help to reduce the urge to smoke

If you would like more information about quitting smoking please call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a doctor at Jamaica Hospital to discuss smoking cessation, please call 718-206-8494.

The Effects Smoking Has on the Digestive System

Smoking affects the entire body, increasing the risk of many life-threatening diseases—including lung cancer, emphysema, and heart disease. What some might not realize however is the strong effect smoking has on the digestive system.

Smoking increases the chances of developing many types of cancers of the digestive system, including the mouth, esophagus, stomach and pancreas. Research has also suggested that smoking can contribute to liver, colon, and rectal cancers.

In addition, smoking can be a factor in the development or progression of many common disorders of the digestive system, such as heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). When you smoke, it can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to weaken. This muscle between the esophagus and stomach keeps stomach contents, such as acids intended to break down foods, from flowing back into the esophagus. When the lower esophageal sphincter weakens, stomach contents may reflux into the esophagus, causing heartburn and possibly damaging the lining of the esophagus.

Another harmful effect smoking can have on the digestive system is it increases the risk of developing peptic ulcers. Peptic ulcers are sores on the inside lining of the stomach or duodenum, most commonly caused by an infection resulting from the development of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Studies suggest that smoking increases the risk of H. pylori infection, slows the healing of peptic ulcers, and increases the likelihood that peptic ulcers will recur

The good news is that quitting smoking can improve the symptoms of some digestive diseases or keep them from getting worse.  If you are looking to quit smoking, but need help, Jamaica Hospital offers the Freedom From Smoking program. For more information or to enroll in our smoking cessation program, please call 718-206-8494

Now That You’ve Quit Smoking –How Do You Resist Temptation?

Congratulations, you have quit smoking.  You have accomplished a major milestone in your journey to achieving good health.  A challenge you may face after your Quit Day is remaining tobacco-free by resisting the temptation to smoke again. Coping with tobacco cravings can be difficult; however, by applying the following tips you can decrease the urge to smoke:

  • Remove yourself from situations that may trigger the urge to smoke
  • Spend free time in environments where smoking is not allowed
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Create or join a support group
  • Think about how harmful tobacco is to your health
  • Think about the health benefits you will gain by remaining smoke-free
  • Try nicotine replacements such as gum, patches or prescription medications
  • Do not have just one cigarette to satisfy a craving- one cigarette will make you want more
  • If you miss the feeling of having a cigarette in your mouth try a toothpick, a stick of gum, celery -anything besides a cigarette
  • Exercise
  • Practice relaxation techniques
  • Give yourself credit for each day you are tobacco free
  • Envision being tobacco-free long-term

Quitting smoking and remaining smoke-free can be difficult and requires a life-long commitment but the benefits to your health are immeasurable.

Jamaica  Hospital Medical Center offers a Freedom from Smoking Tobacco Cessation Program to help you overcome your addiction to tobacco and enjoy the benefits of better health in a fun and interactive environment. Receive personalized attention as well as the support from group members who are experiencing this journey with you. For more information, please call 718-206-8494.

Smoking Cessation

Tobacco is the single greatest cause of multiple diseases and premature deaths in the USA today.  It kills more Americans each year than alcohol, crack, heroin, homicide, suicide, car accidents, fire and AIDS combined. There are an estimated 480,000 deaths in the United States annually that are due to tobacco use. It is the only legal consumer product that is lethal when used exactly as recommended by the manufacturer.

Smoking cigarettes affects many aspects of health. Tobacco smoke contains about 7000 chemicals, including low concentrations of such strong poisons as ammonia, cyanide, arsenic and formaldehyde.  It also contains 69 carcinogens – substances that are known to cause cancers in humans. Direct association has been established between smoking and cancers of the lung, mouth, nose, throat, larynx, esophagus, colon and rectum, stomach, pancreas, cervix, bladder, kidney and blood.
In the United States, Illnesses caused by smoking cost more than 300 billion dollars per year in direct medical care and lost productivity. Smokers pay twice as much for life insurance and will die on average of 13-14 years earlier than non-smokers. It costs tobacco companies approximately 5 cents to produce a pack of cigarettes.

Many lung conditions are either caused or aggravated by cigarette smoke. It irritates bronchial airways and stimulates mucous production leading eventually to decreased elasticity and functional failure. Patients suffering from COPD, Asthma, Chronic Bronchitis or Emphysema have a much higher risk of dying when repeatedly exposed to smoke.
Smokers are also at greater risk for cardiovascular disease. Smoking damages blood vessels making them stiff and narrow, obstructing blood flow which results with elevated blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure or chronic skin changes.

Pregnant women exposed to tobacco smoke have increased risk of complications like miscarriage, premature birth, and brain and lung damage in developing baby. Sudden infant death syndrome is three times more likely if mother smoked during pregnancy.
Secondhand smoke is the smoke exhaled by smokers or given off by a burning cigarette or pipe. Inhaling secondhand smoke is as hazardous as smoking a cigarette. There is no safe level for secondhand smoke exposure established. People can inhale it at work, homes, cars or public spaces and have all the complications mentioned above.

Smoking CessationSmoking tobacco is an addiction similar to heroin and cocaine. It can be successfully treated but the majority of cases require three or more attempts. Quitting smoking offers a chance of feeling better and living longer.  Studies have shown that five, common sense steps, provide the best chance for quitting smoking for good:

1. Get ready: set a quit date and throw out all cigarettes and ashtrays from your home.

2. Get support: tell your family, friends and doctor about quitting plans; search the internet for advice.

3.  Learn new behaviors: distract yourself from the urge to smoke; exercise or go for a walk.

4. Get medication: combining medication like nicotine patches or Zyban with behavioral adaptation and family support quadruples your chances of success.

5. Be prepared for relapse and difficult situations- most people try to quit a few times before   succeeding.

If you would like to learn more about quitting smoking, please call 718-206-8494.

The Benefits of Joining a Support Group- Quit Smoking Today

Meeting Of Support Group

It is no secret that smoking can have a number of adverse effects on the health of a smoker and those they smoke near.  The journey to quitting smoking has evolved from quitting cold turkey, to smoking patches, nicotine gum and today, electronic cigarettes. A more interactive way to stop smoking is by joining a support group.

There are several benefits associated with support groups that will keep you motivated and focused on your goal. Smoking cessation support groups help you to identify the mental, physical, and social aspects of smoking. Participants are six times more likely to be smoke-free one year later than those who quit on their own. Also, statistics have shown that up to 60% of smokers have quit by the end of the program.

The journey to quit smoking can be difficult, but you do not have to do it alone. Jamaica Hospital’s smoking cessation team wants to help you develop a plan leading to your “quit day”.

Jamaica Hospital’s Medical Home Department has partnered with the American Lung Association to bring you Freedom from Smoking, a comprehensive and successful group-based smoking cessation program. Here you will participate in a series of sessions that prepare you for your quit day, provide lifestyle change tips, manage your stress, and help you stay tobacco-free for good.

Recently Jamaica hospital was recognized for its commitment to patient health and initiating comprehensive systems for identifying tobacco-using patients and linking them with smoking cessation resources. Additionally, the hospital earned the Gold Star Recognition from the New York City Department of Health’s- NYC Tobacco-Free Hospitals Campaign for its excellence in developing inpatient and outpatient tobacco cessation systems.

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center has partnered with the American Lung Association to offer Freedom from Smoking, a comprehensive and successful group-based smoking cessation program.

Support group classes at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center are forming. For more information or to register, please call 718-206-8494.

How Harmful is Occasional or Social Smoking?

social smoking-79071856 “I am not really a smoker because I only smoke on occasion or socially.” These words are frequently spoken by those who consider themselves light or social smokers.  It is quite common to find that people within this group are usually in denial of the frequency of their use of cigarettes and believe that they are not at risk of developing tobacco-related illnesses.

The truth is contrary as research has found that one third of people who classify themselves as social smokers actually smoke more than six times per day.   Additionally, whether someone smokes a lot or a little, they are at risk for developing diseases caused by tobacco.  The damage that one puff of nicotine causes is instant.  It takes 10 seconds for nicotine to be transported throughout the body and to the brain.  It slows down circulation and increases blood pressure and heart rate.

Furthermore in a study conducted by the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education it was found that light smoking may result in several health complications such as:

  • Stroke
  • COPD
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Lower respiratory tract infections
  • Weakened immune systems

Smoking occasionally or socially does not exclude you from developing the health complications associated with tobacco use. Over time smoking will take its toll on your body. The best thing you can do for your health is quit smoking.

If you or someone you know needs help in quitting smoking please contact Jamaica Hospital’s Freedom From Smoking program at 718 206 8494 or visit for more information.

Is Smoking Compromising your Auto-immune Health?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Surgeon General Report, there are more than 16 million people in America who already have at least one disease from smoking. As researchwoman-stops-smoking continues to examine the negative side effects of smoking, which can include cancers and respiratory diseases, there is another aspect of your health it may be affecting- your autoimmune system.

Cigarette smoke contains several toxic ingredients including: tars, nicotine, carbon monoxide and other unnatural chemicals. These toxic ingredients are difficult to break down and eliminate both in the body, when inhaled, and in the environment, when exhaled. In addition, these same toxins weaken the immune system.  With 1 out of 5 adults and teenagers smoking, researchers are noticing increased cases of autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, which can be triggered by smoking.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease affecting mostly women, but does not discriminate; men can also fall prey to this disease. The reason one is diagnosed with lupus is still unknown.  However, doctors believe it may be a combination of genetics or the environment. With lupus, the immune system attacks healthy tissue in the body which can make one more susceptible to infections.  Since respiratory infections are among the most common, smoking cigarettes can increase the risk of pneumococcal pneumonia and chronic bronchitis in people diagnosed with lupus.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) disease has no cure, only treated with medications and symptoms can vary from person to person, with the most common symptoms being long periods of joint pain and fatigue. Some people may have a genetic predisposition for RA, and smoking can increase the severity of its symptoms. Smoking can also interfere with the effectiveness of RA medication. Even if you are not genetically disposed to RA, chances are smoking can make you vulnerable to it- a good reason to quit smoking.

Don’t be among the 16 million. Choosing to make a lifestyle change can be difficult; Jamaica Hospital can help. If you are interested in creating a plan or participating in a smoking cessation group, please contact 718-206-8494.