Kicking the Habit

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Knoxville (WVLT) - More than generating money for educational programs and agricultural grants, there may be another added benefit to the cigarette tax increase taking effect Sunday.

It could be the final push some smokers need to finally kick the habit once and for all.

Medical Reporter Jessa Goddard takes a look at the incentive to quit, and how.

"I've heard a lot of my patients talk about 'doc, it's just getting too expensive to smoke these days,” says Pulmonologist Dr. Lynn Nichols.

And it's about to get even more expensive.

This Sunday, July first, the tax on a pack of cigarettes will increase 46 cents, or about 17 percent.

While some smokers are stocking up on cartons ahead of the increase, it's an incentive for others to quit.

"A lot of my patients complain about the cost of medications to help them stop smoking, but in actuality, the cost for the medication is about the cost of what they spend on one pack of cigarettes,” says Dr. Nichols.

If you are one of the 1.5 million smokers in Tennessee and want to quit, there are several nicotine replacement products, over-the-counter and prescription, to help you.

You can buy gum, patches and lozenges without a prescription.

And prescription medications, like Zyban and now Chantix, which has proven very effective.

"It acts at the receptors in the brain for nicotine, and therefore, your brain really has no craving for cigarettes,” Dr. Nichols says.

Chantix costs about $130 for six weeks of treatment.

Most people aren't successful the first few times they try to quit, so don't beat yourself up.

And remember, you're not just saving 46 cents a pack.

"The costs depend on the disease. With lung cancer, it's upwards of 100 to 200 thousand dollars per case,” Dr. Nichols says.

You could be saving your life.

If you do want to try to quit, get support. A doctor can help you tailor an approach to quitting smoking that best suits your needs, and gives you the best chance of kicking the habit for good.

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