A good start to 2016

Quit­ting smok­ing good for the health and the wal­let

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FEATURES/ COMMUNITY -

Ev­ery Jan. 1 many are mo­ti­vated to make pos­i­tive changes through res­o­lu­tions: eat healthy; ex­er­cise more; save money; travel; spend more time with friends and fam­ily.

For those who smoke, quit­ting can ac­com­plish all of th­ese things.

Smok­ing is one of the lead­ing causes of pre­ventable death and dis­ease in P.E.I. so quit­ting smok­ing is good for one’s health. But there are other ben­e­fits such as not hav­ing to plan a day around smoke breaks or saving the money spent on cig­a­rettes for some­thing like tak­ing the trip of a life­time.

Donna Mallard de­cided to end her re­la­tion­ship with cig­a­rettes on Valen­tine’s Day 17 years ago and hasn’t had one since. Not only does she breathe and sleep bet­ter, but she has saved so much money that she now trav­els reg­u­larly with her hus­band. Most re­cently, at the age of 64, Donna walked the Great Wall of China.

“I could never have done that as a smoker,” says Mallard. “I wasn’t healthy enough, and we could never have af­forded it.”

For her 60th birth­day, she also tried zip-lin­ing for the first time. An en­er­getic woman, she is a reg­u­lar at the pool and an ac­tive grand­mother. She says she can’t imag­ine her life if she still smoked.

Like many, Mallard started smok­ing as a young teenager try­ing to im­press her friends. From that point on she smoked a pack ev­ery day un­til she de­cided to quit at 47.

“I first no­ticed it at night. I’d lie down and im­me­di­ately start wheez­ing. I couldn’t sleep be­cause of how un­com­fort­able I was.”

When her breath­ing trou­ble started to get worse, Mallard de­cided to quit and turned to her physi­cian for sup­port. They worked out a plan and, with the help of med­i­ca­tion, she was able to quit.

She also made life­style changes.

“You as­so­ciate smok­ing with cer­tain things. For me, hav­ing a cof­fee would trig­ger a crav­ing, so I cut it out.”

Close to 20 per cent of Is­lan­ders smoke — one of the high­est rates in the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to Cana­dian Can­cer So­ci­ety sta­tis­tics. While quit­ting is im­por­tant, it isn’t easy, so the so­ci­ety of­fers the Smok­ers’ Helpline to Is­lan­ders. Ev­i­dence sug­gests that peo­ple who have sup­ports in place are more likely to be suc­cess­ful in quit­ting than those who do not.

“When you call 1-877-5135333 or visit www.smok­er­shelpline.ca you can speak di­rectly with a quit coach who can help you de­velop a plan to help you quit - free of charge,” says Lori Barker, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Cana­dian Can­cer So­ci­ety, P.E.I. di­vi­sion.

“They’ll speak with you about many things, in­clud­ing your trig­gers and ways of deal­ing with them. We also en­cour­age peo­ple to speak with their fam­ily doc­tor or phar­ma­cists to ex­plore what other sup­ports can help you with quit­ting.”

Mallard knows how dif­fi­cult it can be to quit. She ad­mits that even when her sons be­gan to smoke it wasn’t enough to mo­ti­vate her.

“Peo­ple ask me all the time for ad­vice — all I can tell them is that they need to want to do it. They need to be in the right mind set and they need to stop making ex­cuses to them­selves.”

The Cana­dian Can­cer So­ci­ety en­cour­ages Is­lan­ders to take on the chal­lenge and to seek the sup­port they need to quit smok­ing in 2016.

“You’re worth it”, says Barker. “It’s the best gift you can give your­self and your fam­ily this hol­i­day sea­son.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Donna Mallard is shown walk­ing the Great Wall of China in 2015.

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