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Tobacco use a greater risk

The outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus has instilled fear in individuals across the world, yet toxic and life-threatening habits have been ever-present right in front of us. Smoking is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality with West Virginia ranking as the 2nd highest in the nation for tobacco use, according to West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. Tobacco use affects every organ in the body causing heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, and even cancer. The time to quit smoking is now — put it out before it puts you out.

There are a variety of methods available to help individuals quit, which not only include medications and quitlines but also smartphone apps. While it is not easy to quit, it will give you back years of your life giving you more time to spend with loved ones and doing the activities you love. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, quitting smoking reduces your risk of heart attacks significantly in just 1 year. Starting at 2 years of being tobacco free, your risk of stroke drops to that of a nonsmoker’s. Moreover, after 5 years of quitting smoking, your risks of cancers of the throat and bladder are cut by half; by 10 years, your risk of dying from lung cancer decreases by half.

As a medical student in West Virginia, my daily interactions with patients have shown me how difficult it is to quit smoking. It is challenging for those who want to quit and seems almost impossible for those who do not want to quit. I am writing this piece in an effort to promote public awareness of this aged yet problematic practice. Stopping one bad routine habit can improve your quality of life and can help to eliminate the risk of fatal complications. Do not let smoking take your breath away.

Aisha Imam

Vienna

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