KING COUNTY, WA - Today, King County Executive Ron Sims and Public Health - Seattle & King County Director Dr. Alonzo Plough called on people to welcome the New Year by driving safer and healthier, free from the dangerous distractions of smoking and its hazardous health effects by quitting now.
Distracted driving is a common cause of collisions, often with tragic results. Activities such as cellphone use, eating while driving, changing a CD or smoking have contributed to many crashes.
"You can eliminate one distraction that would also serve to greatly improve your health," said Executive Sims. "Lighting a cigarette or the physical act of smoking presents a distraction when you drive, and burning materials in your vehicle reduces attentiveness behind the wheel. This is yet another reason why now is a good time to stop smoking."
"Safe and healthy driving means not smoking. Not only does it benefit your health, but also the health of your children and passengers," said Plough. Children's and other passenger's exposure to secondhand smoke is much higher in the enclosed space of cars. Secondhand smoke causes respiratory infections, ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and asthma.
"If you don't think you can quit smoking completely right now, start by not smoking in your car, especially when you have passengers riding with you," said Plough.
Keep trying to quit
Nicotine is an addictive drug. People often make more than one quit attempt before finally being able to break the addiction. "Each time you try, you learn more strategies to help you quit, so don't be discouraged," said Greg Hewett, Tobacco Prevention Manager for Public Health - Seattle & King County. "In this country, there are currently over 50 million people alive today who have given up tobacco use."
"With the increased cost of tobacco products and the adverse health effects associated with smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, now is a great time to make a decision that will improve your life and the lives of those around you: the decision to stop smoking," said Hewett.
For support on quitting, visit Public Health's Tobacco Program website or call the Washington State Tobacco Quitline at 1-877-270-STOP for tips, information and practical help in your efforts to quit smoking.
Five keys for quitting smoking...for good!
Studies have shown that following these five steps in developing maintain your own quit plan will help you quit and quit for good:
- Get ready. Set a quit date, change your environment, review your past quit attempts, make a list of reasons to quit and don't smoke — not even a puff.
- Get support and encouragement. Ask family, friends and coworkers to help. Invite a fellow smoker to join you in quitting. Talk to your health care provider. Call the Washington State Tobacco Quitline at 1-877-270-STOP.
- Learn new skills and behaviors. When you feel a need to smoke, instead: call someone and talk; go for a walk; make a cup of tea; take a shower or a bath; read a book or magazine, and; drink plenty of water. Also, plan to reward yourself for your successes along the way. Remember that you're doing a great thing for yourself.
- Get medication and use it correctly. Medications like the nicotine patch, gum or spray, or a non-nicotine medication like Zyban can help you lessen the urge to smoke.
- Be prepared for difficult situations or relapse. Most relapses occur within the first three months after quitting, so anticipating and avoiding difficult situations can increase your chance of success.
Enjoy the benefits of quitting smoking!
- Avoid drinking alcohol when you're trying to quit.
- Being around other smokers can encourage you to smoke.
- Many smokers may gain a few pounds (usually less than 10 pounds) when they quit smoking, so it's good to adopt other healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier and stay active. This can help you can avoid weight gain.