January is a popular month to start making behavior changes to better ourselves for the new year. Some people choose to start going to the gym, read more or eat a healthier diet. But, of all the possible behavior changes one could make, quitting nicotine is one of the best decisions a person can make for their health.
Tobacco use has been shown to cause a number of health issues, including increased risk for heart attack, stroke and cancer. Quitting nicotine is beneficial for your health and other aspects of life. It can help reduce blood pressure, give you more energy and breathing capacity to keep up with your children or family members and can save you money, which can be spent on other healthy activities or hobbies.
Nicotine is the main addictive ingredient in all tobacco products including cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, hookah and chew. However, nicotine is also found in non-tobacco products like pouches (Zyn) and vape devices.
Tobacco use appears to be decreasing in recent years becoming less desirable to the younger generation, maybe due to the culture changing and stigma of smoking. The decrease may also be attributed to the misconception that switching to vaping or non-tobacco nicotine products is healthier than smoking.
In the 2020 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey System, approximately 14% of adults in Idaho reported using tobacco. According to the Idaho Youth Vaping and Tobacco Survey completed in 2023, 70.6% of youth who responded reported being exposed to nicotine.
Vaping and pouch use is continuing to rise in smokers who are not quite ready to give up nicotine for good, but use is also rising in children and teenagers who are experimenting with nicotine products for the first time. We are learning more and more about vaping and pouches every day and the negative health effects these products are having on users. When someone sets their goal to quit nicotine use, we always encourage people to quit tobacco, don’t switch to vaping or pouches. If a person is vaping or using pouches, we encourage them to quit those as well.
Here are some tips for those that might have their mind made up on giving up nicotine for good:
- Set a date to quit. If you have a vague plan, or just say “I’m going to quit this month,” it is easier to stray from the commitment you made to yourself.
- Tell at least one support person that you are quitting. Tell them your quit day, and tell them how they can support you in your quit journey. Having an accountability partner has been shown to help people be more successful in reaching their goals.
- Start making small environmental changes. Before your quit day, get rid of ashtrays and/or burnt out vape devices, clean out your car or clean all of your laundry, these small changes to your immediate environment can help deter you from nicotine use.
- Ask for help. A combination of nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches, gum and lozenges and behavioral therapy (cessation classes, or brief interventions with a professional) have been shown to help people be more successful in quitting, than just quitting cold turkey.
To learn more about quitting nicotine, or to get some extra support, check out these Idaho-based resources:
- Central District Health Nicotine Cessation Classes: kickitidaho.com
- Idaho Quitline (phone and/or text-based support): Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW
Even if you have tried before, know that quitting nicotine is the best health decision you could make for yourself. The more times a person tries to quit, the more likely they will be to succeed the next time they try!