Report: Smoking kills more people than drugs, alcohol and more

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reports smoking kills more people than alcohol, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined.

Health Education Specialist Cody Orchard from South Central Public Health District said, "There are currently 36 million people that smoke in the United States total."

The health district offers cessation classes where Orchard helps smokers stop smoking.

"It's one day a week for five weeks," he continued. "The classes I teach go over everything from preparing to quit, to setting a quit date, making sure that they have the proper medications they might need if they want to go with medication."

Project Filter is a statewide resource to help stop tobacco use.

"Federally funded program that provides free patches and gum to anybody that wants to quit smoke," Orchard explained.

Another alternative is the use of Chantix.

"The state of Idaho now allows pharmacists to provide Chantix, so you don't have to go see your doctor," he said.

Pharmacists will ask questions for the drug that is used a week before actually quitting.

"Chantix is a smoking cessation medication. That doesn't have any nicotone in it and it is designed for you to take the medication for one week before you actually quit," Orchard continued. "It teaches your neuron receptors in your brain that it doesn't need the nicotine."

He said it is proven to be effective but could have side effects.

"I have seen that it seems to be more effective drug, where nicotine patches and gum can still leave you kind of dependent upon the nicotine after you've quit smoking," he continued. "But, the Chantix seems to be the most effective for right now that we do have for medication."

From the cessation classes he teaches, Orchard said he's seen a high percentage of success.

"What I have seen as far as the classes I have taught, there's about an 86 percent success rate. Usually if a person sticks it out through the five weeks, they have quit," he said.

When someone does quit, their body sees changes within the first 20 minutes, such as getting feeling back into their fingers, heart rate return back to normal and blood pressure drops.

"Within 72 hours, all of the nicotine should be out of their body," Orchard explained.

Orchard said smoking is a habit that can be stopped with some patience.

"Everybody can quit. It's just overcoming that addiction," he continued. "The thing is to keep yourself busy, keep your mind busy."

Part of his cessation class teaches people how to maintain diet and nutrition.

"A lot of people have trouble trying to figure out if they're having a craving for a cigarette or if they're actually hungry," he said.

Orchard said he's been teaching the classes since March and has some scheduled in December and January.

For more information on smoking cessation, visit the South Central Public Health District Website.

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