It's been a year since the University of Kentucky campus went tobacco-free.
Since Nov. 19, 2009, employees, sponsored dependents, and students have been 4.5 times more likely to seek help for quitting.
Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide and in Kentucky one in four adults smokes cigarettes. The good news is that nearly three of four smokers want to quit, and we know what works to help them.
If you are a current tobacco user, or care about helping someone who is, here are some suggestions:
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■ If you want to quit, give it a try. Set a quit date and figure out a way to distract yourself during cravings. Expect to be a little uncomfortable from nicotine withdrawal symptoms, such as feeling irritated, tired, or anxious, and not sleeping well.
■ Cutting down on smoking, decreasing the number of cigarettes every day before the actual quit date, might help reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms. To help with cravings, try chewing on straws, toothpicks, cinnamon or sticks.
■ Use nicotine replacement products. These come in several forms and help reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms, lowering your risk of starting smoking again. Patches, gum and lozenges are all available over the counter and are less expensive if you buy generic. Read the directions carefully, as it is important to use these products correctly. For example, nicotine replacement gum should be chewed just enough to soften it, then "parked" between the gum and cheek. If chewed like regular gum, it will not work and may also make you feel sick to your stomach.
■ Enroll in a quit smoking class. Smoking cessation classes, often offered free at your local health department, give you expert help quitting. Many programs also provide free or reduced-cost nicotine replacement products.
■ Call the Quitline at 1-800-QUITNOW. Quitline offers over the phone free, expert help for quitting. For computer users, the EX program online at BecomeAnEx.org is also a great resource.
■ Ask about prescription medications. Talk to your physician or health care provider about varenicline (Chantix) and bupropion (Zyban), two pills that have been shown to help people quit.
Here's some extra motivation to quit:
■ Smoking cessation medications and nicotine replacement products are available for Kentucky Medicaid recipients who enroll in Quitline or health department quit smoking classes. For more information, call your health care provider, local health department, or 1-800-QUITNOW. Veterans can receive similar benefits through Veterans Affairs.
■ Many employers now provide benefits to help employees quit. Ask the human resources department where you work. These benefits are usually available to users of smokeless tobacco products also.
■ The single best thing you can do for your health — and the health of your baby, if you are pregnant — is to quit using tobacco. For more information, contact Audrey Darville at (859) 323-4222 or visit the Web site at Uky.edu/tobaccofree.