Ever heard that saying, "you're closing the barn door after the horse has bolted?" Maybe you have to be raised in farm country to know that one! It's a way of saying, "too late, might as well do _________ if I'm going to pay for it anyway!"
I wonder if some of us feel that way about Smoking Cessation. "Since I have a smoking related illness, I can smoke up a cloud! Why not?" Except this is simply another NicoLie - maybe easy for us to believe but a lie nevertheless.
Take COPD. With COPD it's never too late to quit smoking and reap the benefits - in some ways even more than somebody who doesn't have this illness.
Everybody starts to lose some of their lung capacity as they age. A non-smoker loses about 30 cubic centimeters of FEV per year starting between ages 30 and 40. COPD smokers lose about 100 cubic centimeters per year. But if a COPD smoker stops smoking, that loss drops down to almost the same rate as a non-smoker. So it's like having the lungs of a 80 year old person at age 50 and getting worse by the second if you smoke but normal aging if you quit.
COPD smokers who quit have fewer exacerbations, fewer hospitalizations for less duration, and less risk of dying from COPD.
At the same time, quitting smoking decreases risk for heart disease, lung cancer and stroke.
When asked why they continue to smoke, patients with COPD report that they don't have time to quit smoking. Also, demands from other people to quit smoking seem patronizing. They want to receive support from family and health team members but they want to make the decision to quit on their own.
For successful smoking cessation, it is important to understand the difficulties smokers are experiencing that influence their efforts to quit smoking. To achieve a successful lasting smoking cessation it might be more effective to first ensure that the smoker has the right internal motivation to make the decision to quit, then assist with smoking cessation.
So maybe nobody told us that our lungs are aging 3X as fast as normal and we can decide to stop that at any time or maybe nobody told us that we will have more time for ourselves after we have quit smoking for just a few weeks or maybe neither one of these truth filled factors makes a difference to us.
But I would tell you that you have a lot to gain from Smoking Cessation and the tough part honestly doesn't last all that long! As Marilyn reminds us daily, It's doable!