What’s Hookah?

What’s Hookah?? In the past few years, instead of asking my patients “Do you smoke?” I have learned to ask  “Do you smoke? (pregnant pause)…ANYTHING?” I found that asking in that manner greatly increases my yield. Couple that with Colorado’s legalization of marijuana, and more people are freely sharing the full extent of their substance use with their doctors. Which left me asking the question, “what’s hookah?” (I could add here that I was also asking “what’s shisha” and “what’s snus”?)

Hookahs are water pipes used to smoke flavored tobacco. The flavors are often sweet- chocolate, cherry, licorice or fruit … Read more

What’s Hookah?

CVS Quits Smoking!

Congrats to CVS pharmacy for taking a stand for HEALTH and announcing that they will completely quit selling tobacco products by October 1st of this year! While, yes, consumers can choose to walk across the street and head into another store to purchase their cigarettes, I am hopeful that other major pharmacies and grocery stores will consider this same step. As people have heard me say repeatedly, there is NO amount of tobacco that we believe to be actually GOOD for your health.

Every single day in the United States, there are over 1300 deaths attributed to smoking. How can … Read more

CVS Quits Smoking!

Cigarettes: The Good News & The Bad News

Let’s start off with the GOOD news – the CDC’s anti-smoking TIPS campaign has turned out to be far more successful than they had dared to hope! Over 1.6 million smokers had a quitting attempt, and at least 200,000 smokers DID QUIT as a direct result of the shocking pictures and stories featured in this unique national program. The Lancet published a wonderful article this week summarizing all the findings: Effect of the First Federally Funded U.S. Antismoking National Media Campaign.

I have always maintained that stories are more powerful than statistics. Sure enough, this campaign is chock-full of stories … Read more

Cigarettes: The Good News & The Bad News

What Did You Give Up?

Lent came early this year – tough to have Valentine’s Day the second day of this season if you gave up chocolates! While certainly not everyone practices Lenten observances, I think most people are familiar with the general concept of offering some sort of self-discipline as part of a religious practice, so this is a good opportunity for me to share a thought about the mix of religion and medicine.

As a physician- especially as a Catholic one- I really appreciate Lent. Just as New Year’s resolutions for healthy changes are fading away, in comes Lent to save the … Read more

What Did You Give Up?

Texting Can Save Lives?

Following up on yesterday’s Great American Smokeout…, an interesting study was published this year looking at the effectiveness of TEXTING support to help people quit smoking. This was an analysis of several other studies, including over 9000 total participants. Text messages were used either exclusively or as a supplemental part of smoking cessation programs. Although the results were not fully consistent between the individual studies, ultimately the data is encouraging to support use of this ever-present appendage to aid people in quitting smoking.

In fact, the National Cancer Institute has a texting support program for smokers wanting to quit. … Read more

Texting Can Save Lives?

Great American Smokeout!

TODAY, the third Thursday in November, is the annual GREAT AMERICAN SMOKEOUT sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Each year, smokers are encouraged to use this day as a QUIT date, or at least as a day to make a plan to quit. If you have a friend who still smokes, please reach out to them today and kindly encourage them with a reminder that today is a special day earmarked for their health. With this vice, there is NO amount that can be justified as being “good” for you.  Tobacco harms virtually every organ in the body. Everyone knows … Read more

Great American Smokeout!

Can’t Swallow That?

Difficulty swallowing, known medically as “dysphagia”, is a very common complaint. In fact, up to nearly a quarter of patients seen in primary care settings will suffer from this problem. Dysphagia is definitely more common in the older population, whether they are in nursing homes or living independently.

What causes dysphagia? The most common cause depends on the age. In small kids, there may be structural problems present from birth that may need surgical correction. In adults, however, the cause is often something that can be fixed more simply, with medications and/or behavior changes.

Smoking, excess alcohol, and obesity all … Read more

Can’t Swallow That?