Do right by your heart and quit

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 22, 2014

February is American Heart Month in the United States, and there are few ways a person could do something better for his or her heart than to quit smoking.

CVS recognizes that, and recently the national drug store chain announced it will end tobacco sales in its stores by October.

The company is putting public health above profits, estimating the move will shave an estimated $2 billion in sales per year.

This is an unprecedented step by the company, and we applaud the decision.

So does the American Heart Association.

The disease perhaps most associated with smoking is lung cancer, but the damage smoking can cause to one’s heart is significant. About 20 percent of all deaths from heart disease in the U.S. are directly related to cigarette smoking. Additionally, the risk for coronary heart disease is 25 percent higher in female smokers than in male smokers.

There has never been a better time to quit smoking as the list of places where the habit is tolerated grows shorter and shorter. All places serving food in Louisiana are already smoke free, and a number

of bars and music establishments in the state have followed suit.

Still, Louisiana lags behind the rest of the nation in smoking cessation. More than one quarter of Louisianians smoke compared to about 21 percent nationally.

Although quitting may be one of the more difficult tasks a person can take on, its benefits are both immediate and long lasting.

In the short term, heart rate and blood pressure return to normal, and in the long run those who quit smoking reduce their chances of heart attack and stroke, just to name a couple.

If you can’t motivate your-self to quit smoking for your own health, think your loved ones.

Saving them a broken heart may just be the heart-friendliest thing you can do.