Sunday, April 22, 2018
Health

How to quit smoking? The CDC's 'Tips From Former Smokers' ought to help

It's an image so arresting, even a real pro at fast-forwarding through TV commercials would hit rewind:

A gaunt woman, nearly bald, her jaw slightly askew, plants dentures in her mouth and plops a silky blond wig on her head.

Then she picks up the small device that helps her to speak, and inserts it in the hole surgically cut into the front of her throat. This she conceals with a jaunty scarf that's knotted around her neck.

"Now you're ready for the day,'' she rasps, staring into the camera with a blue-eyed look that is at once matter-of-fact and heartbreaking.

This is Terrie Hall, a North Carolina woman who looks far older than her age, which is 51. She used to smoke, a habit she picked up as a high school cheerleader.

At 40, she was diagnosed with oral cancer, and began radiation treatments. Later that year, doctors found throat cancer and removed her larynx. That's when she finally quit smoking.

The cancer has come back and she still is being treated.

But this is not the only way she is fighting. An antismoking advocate, she now is one of the stars of a new campaign on TV, radio, Internet, newspapers and billboards called "Tips From Former Smokers.'' Sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the series features more than a dozen stories from ex-smokers. Among them:

• A 31-year-old man who had both legs and several fingers amputated because of a smoking-related vascular disease. In his ad, he is seen putting on his prosthetic legs.

• A man who had a heart attack and open-heart surgery in his 40s due to damage caused by cigarettes. He displays the huge scar that runs down the front of his slim torso.

• A woman who had a stroke at age 57, attributed to smoking. She is shown in bed, motionless, watching her son silently bathe her, a task she no longer can perform.

You can see these and other stories at www.cdc.gov/tobacco, where you'll also find resources to help quit smoking.

Are these ads gut-wrenching? Definitely.

Effective? Apparently.

The week before the March 19 campaign launch, 14,437 people called 1-800-QUIT-NOW, the stop-smoking helpline. Last week, 34,413 called.

Darryl Konter at the CDC told me the agency is expecting around 500,000 calls over the course of the 12-week effort, and around 50,000 of those people will quit for good, judging from past campaigns.

What a great payoff for the soon-to-be former smokers — and for people like Terrie Hall who are sharing their struggles so boldly.

Nicotine is both physically and emotionally addictive, making it a famously hard habit to break. Still, thousands have done it — experts say lower rates of smoking are the main reason lung cancer cases are going down in many states, including Florida.

But smoking still is the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the United States. And too many people — particularly children and teens — still are picking up the habit.

Terrie Hall probably knows just what they're thinking.

"You always think it will happen to someone else,'' she has said. "I'm the someone else."

Comments
Do not eat any romaine lettuce, the CDC warns

Do not eat any romaine lettuce, the CDC warns

Public health officials are now telling consumers to avoid all types of romaine lettuce because of an E. coli outbreak linked to the vegetable that has spread to at least 16 states and sickened at least 60 people, including eight inmates at an Alask...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida has hit a milestone of sorts as it slowly moves toward wider availability of medical marijuana.The number of patients in the state who are registered to use the substance has surpassed 100,000 for the first time, according to Florida Departme...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood is expanding its emergency department. The hospital, 7171 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, is spending $17.5 million to add 15 new private treatment rooms, new pediatric rooms and waiting areas, and new technology, acco...
Published: 04/18/18
Barbara Bush’s end-of-life decision stirs debate over ‘comfort care’

Barbara Bush’s end-of-life decision stirs debate over ‘comfort care’

As she nears death at age 92, former first lady Barbara Bush’s announcement that she is seeking "comfort care" is shining a light — and stirring debate — on what it means to stop trying to fight terminal illness.Bush, the wife of former President Geo...
Published: 04/17/18
Preparing for the worst, staffers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s learn through simulation

Preparing for the worst, staffers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s learn through simulation

When the patient got violent, Dr. Michelle Hidalgo didn’t have time to think. She had to react. The woman was moving strangely and seemed erratic. Hidalgo had to make a tough call — it was time to physically restrain her for everyone’s safety.Then th...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Lung cancer patients live longer with immune therapy

The odds of survival can greatly improve for people with the most common type of lung cancer if, along with the usual chemotherapy, they are also given a drug that activates the immune system, a major new study has shown.The findings should change me...
Published: 04/16/18
Thousands of pounds of prepackaged salad mixes may have been tainted with E. coli, officials say

Thousands of pounds of prepackaged salad mixes may have been tainted with E. coli, officials say

A Pennsylvania food manufacturer is recalling 8, 757 pounds of ready-to-eat salad products following an E. coli outbreak that has spread to several states and sickened dozens of people.Fresh food Manufacturing Co., based in Freedom, Pennsylvania, is ...
Published: 04/15/18
St. Anthony’s Cancer Center installs bell dedicated to survivors

St. Anthony’s Cancer Center installs bell dedicated to survivors

ST. PETERSBURGSister Mary McNally, vice president of mission at St. Anthony’s Hospital, stood in front of a room of cancer survivors to unveil a silver bell surrounded by butterfly stickers mounted to the wall of the Cancer Center lobby. "So often pe...
Published: 04/13/18
Hand dryers could leave your hands dirtier than you think

Hand dryers could leave your hands dirtier than you think

Washing your hands after you use the bathroom is a good idea. But using a public dryer could undo all that hard work, according to a new study.A study, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, examined 36 men’s and women’s bat...
Published: 04/13/18
Meek and Mighty Triathlon draws the young (siblings who are 7, 9 and 11) and not so young

Meek and Mighty Triathlon draws the young (siblings who are 7, 9 and 11) and not so young

The annual St. Anthony’s Triathlon has for years attracted elite athletes from around the world, making the St. Petersburg race one of the premier triathlon events in the country. There’s a big incentive to run fast, swim hard and be the best on a bi...
Published: 04/13/18