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Smoking and Heart Disease

Cigarette smoking is the single most preventable cause of death and disability in the United States. Although smoking leads to more than 440,000 deaths each year, a large percentage of the population -- about 46 million people -- continues to smoke.

Most people who smoke make 5 to 7 attempts before being successful. It is best if you can quit early on when your risk for disease can be reversed.

If you don't use tobacco but you want to help a friend or relative quit, realize that he or she will be more likely to quit if other people (such as health professionals and friends) also are encouraging him or her to quit. You can state your concerns about his or her smoking, but don't nag.

Cigarettes are only one form of tobacco -- other forms include cigars, pipes, and smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco or snuff). All tobacco products contain nicotine and can lead to dependence. The earlier a person starts using tobacco, the more severe the dependence will become. Nicotine dependence is a long-term (chronic) condition.

Tobacco in any form causes health problems. It increases a person's risk for many serious health problems, such as heart attack and stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and many cancers (including those of the mouth, throat, esophagus and lung). People who smoke increase their family members' risk of lung cancer and heart disease. They also increase the risk of their children dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or having asthma, frequent ear infections, and respiratory infections. If their children already have asthma or allergies, a parent's smoking may cause these conditions to get worse. It also worsens asthma symptoms, endangers a pregnancy, and causes shortness of breath, impotence, and infertility.

Freedom from Smoking

The Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine and The American Lung Association of Eastern Missouri are sponsoring the acclaimed Freedom From Smoking® program. This six-week, group smoking cessation program is offered through the Health and Cancer Information Center at the Siteman Cancer Center. You will learn the quitting strategies used by other successful ex-smokers and how to minimize withdrawal symptoms, cope with temptation and avoid relapse.

Classes meet at the Health and Cancer Information Center, Lobby of Center for Advanced Medicine, 4921 Parkview Place. The program cost is $45. This is less than the cost of two weeks of cigarettes for most smokers. Call 314-362-7844 for more information or to register.