Doctor's best advice to quit smoking: Cold turkey

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - This week is "Quitting time in Tennessee," where state leaders are encouraging people to quit smoking.

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare said tobacco claims 30 lives every day and more than one in five Tennesseeans still smoke.

One Mid-South doctor, a former smoker, had plenty of reasons to quit.

"My best advice is to quit cold turkey. Just quit," Dr. Jeff Mullins said.

Mullins is a family physician who's been practicing medicine in Memphis for 25 years.

"If you are a young person and you are just starting to kind of play around with it, you are absolutely playing with the most addictive drug that kills more people than any other addictive drug," he said.

Mullins began smoking when he was 19 and finally quit almost 30 years later.

"I quit for me, and I think that's an important point. You can't quit for your spouse, you can't quit for your children, you can't quit for your job, you have to quit for you because ultimately you're the one that's being hurt by it."

He said you add 10 years to your life when you quit, and if you can't do it cold turkey, there's gum and patches to help.

"It's a very addictive habit and that is why people still smoke. I've never spoken to a smoker who ever wished they never started," Mullins said.

Mullins said some people use e-cigarettes to help quit regular cigarettes, but warns that it's unknown exactly how safe or unsafe e-cigarettes are.

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