One of the most common barriers keeping long-term smokers from taking steps toward quitting is the question, “What’s the point?”

After all, the longer one smokes, the less inclined they may be to change habits that they have held for years or even decades, despite the innumerable health drawbacks that smoking has been proven to cause. But it’s never too late to secure health benefits from dropping the habit – and it may be easier to quit than you think, even for those who have tried and failed before. ?

A crucial first step is realizing that quitting is always worth the effort, no matter how long you’ve kept it up. According to Dr. Andrew Gordon, a medical practitioner with OMNI Medical Group, there are many benefits for people that quit smoking – benefits that apply to those of any age. For one, “Smoking cessation provides decreased risks of infections and emphysema,” Gordon says, and adds that it is worth quitting since doing so decreases the chances of further infections or any potential worsening of emphysema. Also among the most common problems from long-term smoking that he notes are pneumonia, bronchitis and cancer of the lung – avoidance of which can be aided by kicking tobacco.

?There are other considerations besides health, as well. “For a two-pack-a-day smoker,” he explains, “savings (from quitting) are about $200-$300 a month, or $2,400-$3,600 per year.”

These savings include not just the costs of cigarettes, but the potential costs of medical care that long-term smoking often necessitates.

He went on to elaborate that quitting does not have to be a process done “cold turkey,” or solely with the unsupervised aid of pharmacy-bought nicotine patches or gum. He cites Chantix, a prescription medication, as being effective for the quitting process 50 percent of the time, and adds that counseling and weekly talks are also helpful for those who are struggling with quitting on their own.

?According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a substantial number of adults who smoke wish that they could quit more easily, with CDC Director Thomas Frieden citing as many as “two-thirds of smokers” as wanting to quit smoking, with “more than half” making an effort to try to quit in 2010.

But the CDC says that most people who try to quit either don’t use or just aren’t aware of the services available to them that could help them kick the habit.

?Comprehensive programs, which focus not just on cigarette smoking but also smokeless tobacco in chewed form, or snus, are not only provided by the state, but are much more complex, involved and helpful than a first glance would suggest. One such program, Tobacco Stops With Me, works on an individual level with those who would like to quit by determining their specific habits, their personal triggers, and then helps to curb their particular patterns of use through one-on-one assistance. But even better, all residents of Oklahoma who want to give it a shot get to try it out for free.

“All Oklahoma residents are entitled to two weeks of free patches and assistance,” says Sally Carter, interim tobacco service chief with Oklahoma’s Center for the Advancement of Wellness. “With some people being entitled to up to four.” The free services are there to help encourage people to quit smoking without facing more external obstacles than they need to.

“Lots of people will ask, ‘Well, what’s the catch?’ But there is no catch,” she says.

More information on the Tobacco Stops With Me program can be found on its website,, or by calling its free helpline, 1.800.QUIT.NOW.

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