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Continued Prevalence of Tobacco-Related Chronic Diseases Call for Proven Smoking Cessation Methods


SMOKING CESSATION - Despite advancements in health and science, many individuals remain susceptible to a wide range of chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. A previous post entitled ‘Food Companies Intentionally Make Their Products Addictive’ explains how the risk of developing chronic diseases can be attributed to industry-wide practices that create and use ingredients relatively higher in fat and sugar content than whole foods, such as high-fructose corn syrup. As individuals tend to crave these snacks and increase their intake of fat, salt, and sugar, they are more likely to experience high blood pressure and impair major organs like the heart, kidneys, and brain.

But besides dietary choices, another lifestyle factor that can be linked to the development of chronic diseases is smoking. While global smoking rates have declined throughout the years, studies show that the effects of tobacco use persist and contribute to disease and mortality. This trend entails a look at cases of tobacco-related disease and how these can be addressed through proven smoking cessation methods.

Tobacco-related chronic diseases remain prevalent

Cigarettes and tobacco smoke can contain several major toxins like tar, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen cyanide, which otherwise contribute to a global burden of disease. To illustrate, inhaling hydrogen cyanide can damage the cilia, which are the lungs’ hair-like structures that serve as a natural cleaning system. This can then make foreign particles and harmful chemicals accumulate in the airways, impairing the overall functioning of the respiratory system.

The adverse effects of tobacco smoke on the lungs may explain why a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report notes a stable prevalence (6.1% to 6.0%) of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the US from 2011 to 2021. COPD is significantly related to smoking status and is one of the leading causes of death in the country, thus proving the severity of tobacco-related diseases. The continued prevalence of chronic diseases attributable to smoking can also be gleaned from the high estimates of lung cancer rates, which are about 116,310 in men and 118,270 in women.

Such disease risks can fortunately be managed by long-term smoking cessation, with effective strategies discussed in the next section.

Evidence-based smoking cessation strategies can reduce tobacco use

Quitting tobacco can have immediate and long-term benefits, such as stabilizing the heart rate and improving lung health and functioning. Since transitioning to a smoke-free lifestyle can be challenging, the demand for smokeless alternatives from tobacco giants like Altria has grown, as evidenced by the 31.1% increase in shipment volumes of Altria's On! nicotine pouches. For context, On! pouches can be effective for quitting due to their discreet and tobacco-free properties, allowing smokers to ease their cravings and withdrawal symptoms even in public places. These pouches are widely available almost anywhere in the United States through online and offline channels, and feature flavors like citrus, cinnamon, and wintergreen in 2mg, 4mg, and 8mg strengths to cater to various nicotine needs.

Successful smoking cessation can also come in the form of pharmacological approaches. Besides traditional nicotine replacement therapy through gums, lozenges, and patches, the prescription drug Chantix (varenicline) can also serve as a stop-smoking aid. Chantix works by blocking nicotine’s stimulating effects on the brain, thus being effective for changing smoking behaviors and reducing the risk of tobacco relapse. A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that varenicline can sustain smoking abstinence for up to 26 weeks, with cessation success being more achievable when combined with behavioral interventions like counseling.

In summary, smoking remains one of the leading risk factors for chronic diseases. However, smokers can improve their health outcomes and reduce tobacco-related disease and mortality risks through evidence-based smoking cessation strategies.