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Tobacco users can 'Smoke Out' Nov.16

Aviano Air Base, Italy -- For most people, quitting smoking can be the hardest thing they will ever have to do. 

Fortunately, Aviano members don't have to do it alone. 

The Health and Wellness Center will have a tobacco informative booth from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Base Exchange. The booth coincides with The Great American Smoke Out, a nationally recognized day that encourages tobacco users to live a tobacco-free life. 

The HAWC also hosts a tobacco cessation class that teaches the benefits of quitting and how to deal with stress management, weight gain and relapse prevention. The class is an eight-session course that spans two months. The HAWC can also provide medication such as the nicotine patch to help tobacco users quit. Everyone including dependents and civilian Department of Defense employees are eligible for the course. 

Knowing the serious health risks associated with tobacco use can motivate some people to quit. Tobacco and its chemical components such as tar and nicotine can increase risks for cancer, heart and respiratory disease, peptic ulcer disease, esophageal reflux, hypertension, fetal illnesses and death, coronary artery disease, as well as many other illnesses. 

For more information or to sign up for the tobacco cessation class call Ext. 4573. 

Curbing the addiction

Nicotine is a drug found naturally in tobacco. It is highly addictive and, over time, the body becomes physically and psychologically dependent on it. 

Nicotine affects many parts of the body, including the heart and blood vessels, the hormonal system, the body's metabolism, and the brain. 

Nicotine produces feelings that make smokers want to smoke more and also acts as a depressant by interfering with the flow of information between nerve cells. As the nervous system adapts to nicotine, smokers tend to increase the number of cigarettes they smoke and, hence, the amount of nicotine in their blood. After a while, the smoker develops a tolerance to the drug, which leads to an increase in smoking. Eventually, the smoker reaches a certain nicotine level and then smokes to maintain this level of nicotine. 

In addition to nicotine dependence, most people have psychological reasons for smoking. People have learned to use cigarettes to cope with certain situations, or have invested special meaning in their cigarettes. Most smokers are familiar with the habit aspect of smoking. They are very likely to smoke in certain situations or during certain activities such as driving a car, talking on the telephone or drinking a cup of coffee. Under these circumstances, the person may not consciously think about smoking or even remember lighting the cigarette. 

For others, cigarettes are used to help cope with stress or to deal with uncomfortable situations. Some people feel that smoking relaxes them, so they have a cigarette when they feel tense. Others smoke when they are happy or having fun. Loneliness, boredom, and frustration are other reasons why people use cigarettes. For these people, cigarettes have become a "friend." They may feel sad or frightened at the thought of losing that reliable, comforting friend. 

Courtesy of the American Cancer Society and the Health and Wellness Center.