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Be a quitter this New Year

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Setting and accomplishing a goal is one of the most rewarding experiences life has to offer, and the new year is a perfect time to improve and grow as a person.

Some resolutions, such as saving money or learning a new language, have the potential to make our lives more enjoyable and interesting, while others can make our lives healthier, happier, and even longer.

Tobacco cessation, for example, can positively impact almost every aspect of your life, from improved cardiovascular health to heightened sense of taste and smell.

Kicking the habit of using tobacco products such as cigarettes and dip is one of the top 10 most popular New Year's resolutions year after year, and while battling nicotine addiction is no easy task, the 20th Aerospace Squadron's Health Promotion office offers several free resources to raise Team Shaw's chances of success.

"Anyone can benefit from tobacco cessation," said Penny Hardin, 20th AMS Health Promotion program coordinator. "Whether you smoke a pack a day or just one cigarette a week, we can help you stop if you're ready to stop."

Health Promotion's comprehensive tobacco cessation program is open to active duty service members, dependents over the age of 18, retirees and Department of Defense civilians.

The program is able to provide a prescription for up to three months of nicotine addiction medication to patients who need it, in addition to offering resources such as access to the American Lung Association Tobacco Quit Line and tobacco cessation classes to give quitters the best chance possible at living tobacco-free.

The ALA Tobacco Quit Line is a nation-wide smoking cessation hotline open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The hotline is staffed with nurses, respiratory therapists and tobacco cessation counselors who are available to talk with patients and help them work through any issues they may be having during the quitting process.

Tobacco cessation classes are held at the Health Promotion office and are designed to help patients identify situations that trigger their tobacco use while preparing them for the challenges that come with quitting.

By making calls to the ALA Tobacco Quit Line or participating in tobacco cessation classes at Health Promotion as opposed to relying on medication alone, those seeking to kick the habit raise their chances of success from 10 percent to 30 percent.

"It goes to show you that either going through classes or using the Quit Line significantly helps them be successful at being tobacco-free," Hardin said. "Thirty-four percent of our patients are tobacco free at 12 months versus the national average of 23 percent at 12 months."

According to Hardin, no tobacco product is safer for consumption than another since they all contain the highly addictive substance nicotine. Hardin also said the risk of addiction and negative side effects associated with tobacco use aren't limited to traditional means of nicotine consumption.

"Companies are marketing e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to tobacco use, but they don't know that definitively," Hardin said. "They're not FDA-regulated. There's a lot of research going on concerning the pros and cons of e-cigarettes and they haven't found any pros.

"I can tell you personally I've seen some people get more addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes than traditional tobacco use."

Whether you have smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for the past ten years or you occasionally vape when spending time with friends, tobacco cessation is a noble goal that Health Promotions can help you achieve. Although the road to a tobacco-free life can be rough, Hardin has advice for anyone who stumbles on their journey:

"At midnight, it's a new day."