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One of the smart things you can do for your health is to quit smoking or using other kinds of tobacco. Quitting is not easy, but it can be done. An added bonus is that people who quit smoking before the age of 50 cut their risk of dying in the next 15 years by half.*
With that in mind, the American Cancer Society hosts the Great American Smokeout every year on the third Thursday of November. The event is used as a way to encourage smokers to take action and plan to quit, even to quit smoking that day! But you don't have to wait until November to make a commitment to quit. You can resolve to it in January, or make a promise to yourself for another important date in your life. The important thing is to set a date and get support.
You may wonder why it’s so important to stop smoking even if you have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Like many other medical conditions, COPD is a disease that can become worse over time. If you quit smoking, it can slow this process. Smoking causes inflammation in the lungs, which means there is less oxygen to flow through. Smoking can also damage air sacs in the lungs and cause your lungs to lose elasticity. This results in having a hard time breathing as well as shortness of breath. You can also experience coughing, and even wheezing. If you continue to smoke, it will cause more damage to your lungs. Your symptoms can then become worse much sooner than if you quit. Your symptoms could quickly get in the way of performing everyday activities such as taking a shower or even cleaning your home.
Studies show that smokers are more likely to become sick with the flu than those who do not smoke. You are also more likely to get pneumonia. Healthy people may be able to fight off the flu or pneumonia and make a full recovery. When you have COPD, this illnesses can be very serious and may lead to major complications.
Talk with your doctor about quitting smoking. There are many aids and resources available to help you successfully give up smoking.
Your health plan can help you quit smoking by covering the cost of medicine and counseling to support you. Even if you’re not ready to quit, knowing your costs will be covered may inspire you to do so in the future.
Find out if you’re currently eligible to enroll in the Tobacco Cessation Program** by calling 866-412-8795 or the number on your member ID card. Have your ID card handy and follow the prompts. Be sure to select the Lifestyle Management option. From now until Nov. 16, join all the others across the country in committing to quit smoking in support of the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout.
*Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012
**The tobacco cessation program is available to members who have coverage through their employers and access to Blue Care Connection. For more complete details, including benefits, limitations and exclusions, please refer to your certificate of coverage. You may also talk to your HR department or call the customer service number on your member ID card.
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