WHEELING - Many smokers start the new year with the goal of quitting the habit, but anytime is a good time to stop smoking, said Dr. William Mercer.
Mercer, Wheeling-Ohio County health officer, said that's just the advice he gives his private practice patients in Wheeling. But the smoker has to be ready to quit, he noted.
''Every time someone tries to quit they learn something from that attempt,'' Mercer said.
File photo by Shelley Hanson
Local doctors say anytime is a good time to quit smoking.
The process can be made a little easier if one has a partner who also is trying to quit, such as a spouse or friend.
''There are benefits to quitting at anytime of your life - even people in their 80s,'' he said.
For those who need assistance quitting, there are some products that have been helpful to people, such as nicotine replacement patches and lozenges, Mercer said. Also, a drug called Chantix works on the brain's nicotine receptors, while others have used an anti-depressant named Zyban.
''It's the best we have so far to help people quit," Mercer said, noting there have been some reports of Chantix users having suicidal thoughts.
Others have tried electronic cigarettes as a product to help stop smoking. But Mercer said since the product is not classified as a stop-smoking aid, its makers are not required by law to prove it is safe to use.
''Since it's classified as tobacco, they don't have to show it's safe,'' Mercer said.
In West Virginia, residents looking for help can call the West Virginia Tobacco Quitline - 877-966-8784. The service offers coaching and pharmaceutical help. The Ohio Tobacco Quitline is 800-784-8669.
Dr. Angelo Georges, Wheeling Hospital chief medical officer, said in his private practice he has noticed some people do well by quitting ''cold turkey,'' or without smoking cessation products. Others have more success while using nicotine lozenges or patches or other medications.
''It's really mind over matter. People have to remember that it's an addiction,'' Georges noted.
He said some contract a cold a month after quitting and say they felt better while they were smoking and restart the habit. If people can get through that first month, their odds of staying off cigarettes improve.