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Let’s Quit Together

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Let’s Quit Together

A combo of medication and coaching can nearly double smoking cessation rates from 7 percent to 15 percent

Since we announced our decision to stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products in our CVS/pharmacy retail stores, CVS Health has received an outpouring of public support. But helping people quit smoking goes well beyond simply removing product from store shelves. When we officially went tobacco free in September 2014, we also launched a comprehensive and uniquely personalized national program to help the seven out of 10 smokers who want to quit.

The combination of medication and coaching is especially powerful. In fact, it can nearly double quit rates from 7 percent to 15 percent. That’s an important difference when you consider that the average smoker will try to quit anywhere between seven and nine times. That’s why our smoking cessation program combines four critical components that are proven to be most effective: an assessment of the smoker’s readiness to quit, medication support, coaching and education.

Since tobacco use is greater among minority populations, it’s especially important to have these resources available in multicultural communities. Among African Americans in particular, smoking is a serious problem, since this population suffers disproportionately from deadly and preventable diseases associated with smoking, such as lung cancer. That’s why we’ve made sure that our programs are available in all of our CVS/pharmacy stores and our MinuteClinic retail medical clinics. We’re also supplementing those options with digital resources, and a 1-800 number to connect people who want to quit to services in local communities.
So what can you do to start to stop smoking?

Find emotional support. It’s easier to quit when friends and family support you. Tell them you’re quitting and ask if they can check in with you to see how things are going, join you for smoke-free activities, quit with you or not smoke around you, and not let you have a cigarette—no matter what.

Get rid of it all. You’re going to be tempted to smoke, so remove reminders and enablers. Throw away lighters, matches, ashtrays and cigarettes. Clean your car, clothes, curtains, carpets and anything that smells like smoke.

Plan for challenges. The first few weeks will be the toughest. You may feel uncomfortable and have cravings. These intense urges to smoke are temporary, no matter how powerful they feel.

Consider medication. Research shows that when you combine expert advice with the right medication, you double your chances of quitting successfully. There are over-the-counter options as well as prescription medications. Your pharmacist, health-care provider or MinuteClinic practitioner can help you find the option that’s right for you.

While the prevalence of smoking has decreased from 42 percent of adults in 1965 to 18 percent today, much more needs to be done to help Americans kick the habit … or never start. The hard work of quitting smoking is worth it because there are many health benefits to quitting smoking. In fact, long-term smokers who quit by age 40 can gain back nine of the 10 years they would have lost to smoking. Despite what some may think, it is never too late to stop.

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Nancy Gagliano, M.D.