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American Lung Association Offers Seven Tips to Quit Smoking in the New Year

Note to Editors: Experts in quitting smoking are available for comment.

Many people will make New Year’s resolutions to quit smoking this year. With a still uncertain economy, quitting smoking is good both for your health and your wallet. Having a solid smoking cessation plan can greatly improve a person’s chance for success. The American Lung Association offers tips and resources that have helped thousands of people give up smoking for good:

1.      Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the different over-the-counter and prescription medications to help you quit smoking.

2.      Look into the different options available to help smokers quit. Visit www.lungusa.org or call 800-548-8252 for suggestions.

3.      Take time to plan. Pick your quit date a few weeks ahead of time and mark it on the calendar. If you can, pick a day when life’s extra stresses are not at their peak, such as after the holidays. Mark a day on the calendar and stick to it.

4.      Get some exercise every day. Walking is a great way to reduce the stress of quitting. Exercise is proven to not only combat weight gain but also to improve mood and energy levels.

5.      Eat a balanced diet, drink lots of water and get plenty of sleep.

6.      Ask family, friends and co-workers for their help and support. Having someone to take a walk with or just listen can give a needed boost.

7.      You don’t have to quit alone. Help is available online and in your community. Consider joining a stop-smoking program like Freedom From Smoking (www.ffsonline.org) from the American Lung Association.

“Smokers have different experiences when they quit,” said Norman Edelman, M.D. American Lung Association Chief Medical Officer.  “Some people may feel tired or even easily excitable. Others may feel lightheaded, nervous or irritable and experience headaches in addition to craving tobacco or sweets. It’s important to know that these feelings are normal, and may last for several weeks, but eventually they will pass.”

The American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking (FFS) program has helped thousands of people quit smoking and is considered the gold standard for its clinically proven techniques.

Busy people can participate in the newly-redesigned Freedom From Smoking Online (www.ffsonline.org) from the comfort and privacy of their home. For no cost, people can choose a Basic FFS Online membership which includes a complete, eight-module program. For minimal cost, a Premium membership includes the eight-module program, access to the online community, and other resources such as message boards and downloadable relaxation exercises.

The multi-step Freedom from Smoking program is also offered in a group setting, as many participants find the support of others a beneficial component of the quitting process.  Individual interested in the group clinic option should contact their local Lung Association.  A complete list of Lung Associations can be found at www.lungusa.org.

“Quitting smoking is one of the most important things that you can do for your health,” added Dr. Edelman. “Half of all regular smokers will die of smoking-related diseases so it’s important to plan for and set your quit date as soon as possible. The American Lung Association offers the best tools and resources available.”

About the American Lung Association: Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lungusa.org.


From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine


Dear EarthTalk: What is the current status of whales?  How effective is the International Whaling Commission and which countries are involved in illegal whaling? -- Jonathan Wingate, Yulee, FL


Some larger whale species have been recovering since the dark days before the whaling industry was regulated, but the majority of cetaceans—that is, the distinct order of marine mammals consisting of whales, dolphins and porpoises—are in decline, with some likely headed for extinction in the near term.


According to data collected by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which maintains a “Red List” of threatened or endangered species, two of the largest whale species, humpbacks and southern rights, have rebounded since 1982 when the International Whaling Commission (IWC) imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling. Based on IUCN’s 2008 survey of cetaceans, both species, while still threatened, were upgraded from “Vulnerable” to “Least Concern” status on the Red List. “Humpbacks and southern right whales are making a comeback in much of their range mainly because they have been protected from commercial hunting,” says Randall Reeves, IUCN’s assessment leader. “This is a great conservation success and clearly shows what needs to be done to ensure these ocean giants survive.”


But other cetaceans haven’t fared so well. Almost a third of the world’s 80-plus cetacean species had their Red List status changed based on the IUCN’s 2008 assessment, with the vast majority now considered at greater risk than before. Overall, nearly a quarter of cetacean species are considered threatened, and of those, more than 10 percent (nine species) are listed as Endangered or Critically Endangered, the highest categories of threat. Reeves says that the real situation could be much worse, as researchers could not obtain enough data on more than half of the world's cetacean species to properly classify their status.


While commercial whaling is what first put cetaceans at risk—the IWC’s 1982 moratorium greatly reduced stress on many species—other threats loom larger than ever: Whales the world over withstand ship strikes, habitat deterioration and declining prey. And the smaller cetaceans (dolphins, porpoises and small whales) often drown in huge fishing nets that trawl the ocean scooping up everything in their path.


And of course commercial whaling still goes on despite the moratorium. Norway, Even with its IWC membership, disregards the moratorium and resumed commercial whaling in 1994. Iceland, which initially withdrew from the IWC over the moratorium, began commercial whaling again in 2006. Japan claims to hunt whales for scientific research purposes—but critics say this is just a front to obtain and sell whale meat under the false pretense of species counts. Whalers from several nations, including the U.S., hunt limited amounts of cetaceans for subsistence purposes, but these numbers are very small.


The IWC is a voluntary organization not backed up by any treaty, so its ability to regulate whaling is limited. Perhaps the biggest factor in nations’ willingness to honor the moratorium is the court of public opinion; awareness of the plight of cetaceans has skyrocketed since the 1960s when environmental groups like Greenpeace first began publicizing the threats faced by the largest creatures on the planet. Today “Save the Whales” might seem like a cliché from bygone days, but with so many cetacean species in decline, it just might be a more needed environmental battle cry than ever before.


CONTACTS: IUCN, www.iucn.org; IWC, www.iwcoffice.org; Greenpeace, www.greenpeace.org.

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