Smokers and vapers, keep trying to quit

Snapshot of the days holiday.

Addiction — the more we learn about it, the more reason we find to fear it. And the more we warn young people never to become addicted to anything if they can help it.

The topic is drawing the nation’s attention big-time due to the opioid drug epidemic, but it’s worth looking beyond heroin to our more common addictions, from smoking to smartphones to TV.

Not that we who write this are entirely clean. Caffeine is a tough one to shake. So is sugar.

But nicotine — that’s incredibly addictive, and the tobacco products it comes in will wither you up and kill you. We’ve all seen it happen, over and over and over.

Among young people, vaping is even bigger than cigarettes these days. People promote it as being free of tobacco’s damaging side effects, but that’s not true. Aside from whatever else may be in that smoke, there’s usually more nicotine than in a cigarette. Make no mistake: This is the tobacco industry’s way to drain the pocketbooks and health of yet another generation.

Today is the 43rd annual Great American Smokeout, a day organized by the American Cancer Society to remind smokers that it’s time to plan how to free themselves.

More than two-thirds of smokers want to quit completely, according to a 2015 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than half said they had stopped smoking for more than a day in an effort to do so. They get it.

Quitting is hard, no doubt, but it’s absolutely possible and is done all the time. Since 2002 the number of former smokers has outnumbered current smokers in the U.S., according to the CDC.

So there’s reason to hope, and to keep trying until it sticks. Each time, you’ll learn something new about yourself and how addiction has hijacked your brain, your impulses and your habits. Our friends at the North Country Healthy Heart Network tell us is takes, on average, seven sincere efforts for a smoker to quit — sometimes more, sometimes less.

Both the CDC and the Health Heart Network say you’re more likely to successfully quit if you get medical and/or counseling support. Ask your doctor, or check the following websites:

¯ A mapping tool to find a tobacco treatment specialist near you (developed by the Healthy Heart Network): http://bit.ly/CessationMap

¯ North Country Healthy Heart Network: www.heartnetwork.org

¯ The CDC on smoking and tobacco: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/

More and more, government and other societal institutions are trying to limit smokers’ options in an effort to help them quit, and to spare the lungs of everyone else. Essex County has raised the age to buy tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21, starting Jan. 1, 2019, and other counties may follow suit. North Country Community College will ban tobacco use throughout its three campuses by 2020, and Behavioral Services North has already done so on its premises. Smoking has been banned in Saranac Lake’s parks for many years.

Today, we ask smokers, vapers and dippers to keep trying to free themselves from this addiction — for their own personal and financial health, and for the sake of those around them.

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