A good start to 2016
Quitting smoking good for the health and the wallet
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.”
Donna Mallard is shown walking the Great Wall of China in 2015.