Ian Wallace, MDBy Dr. Ian Wallace


Spring is finally upon us with warmer days, more sunshine and the budding of the trees.  I really enjoy spring because it allows me more opportunities to be outside with my family in nature.  We look forward to dusting off the kayaks, the bikes, and doing some cooking on the grill with friends.  Sprinkled into all this is some spring cleaning that includes donating old toys that other kids might enjoy, or clothes that we haven’t worn much and trying to work on improving healthy habits and reducing the bad ones.  One habit that many have tried to kick but find hard is smoking or chewing tobacco.  I wanted to spend this article reviewing what resources are available to help with quitting tobacco in Idaho and how they might help you enjoy your spring, summer, and many more seasons to come.


A place to start when deciding to quit smoking or chewing is to determine your motivation.  Many are motivated to quit because of financial benefits while others are more motivated for the health benefits for themselves and others in their household.  Knowing your motivation helps you to formulate a plan and reminds you of the benefit to quitting.  Smoking is one of the primary risk factors for developing mouth or esophageal cancers.


Financially, you can expect to save quite a bit of money.  If you smoke a pack a day and your average cost of cigarettes is $5 you can expect to save $1825 per year.  Some of my patients have told me they can find cigarettes for cheaper, however the savings are still substantial.  Think of the plane tickets, hotel room or rental car you can spend this money on instead.  Or indulge an upgrade to equipment for a favorite hobby, you will have earned it!


Beyond the financial benefits, the health benefits are more impressive.  After just 20 minutes of being smoke free your blood pressure starts to fall and blood vessels start to relax.  Smoking increases your level of carbon monoxide in your blood which prevents your body from absorbing oxygen.  After 12 hours that will return to normal.  You can expect better breathing in about 3 months, better lung function in about 6 months with decreased risk for infections like pneumonia.  I will stop there but the list continues all the way out to 15 years smoke free when a smoker would return to average heart disease risk.  Second hand smoke has a significant impact on the health of others around you, especially in your household.  Children are most affected because of their still developing respiratory systems.  Childhood illnesses directly attributed to second hand smoking include ear pain, ear infections, upper respiratory infections, asthma, and decreased ability to concentrate and learn in school.  Do your kids or grandkids a favor and try to make quitting tobacco a priority for their health as well as yours.