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Smoking is a deadly habit – if you need proof just consider the following facts from the American Cancer Society:
• Nearly half of all Americans who continue to smoke will die because of it.
• 438,000 people in the U.S. die from tobacco use each year.
• Nearly one out of every five deaths is related to smoking.
• Cigarettes kill more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide and illegal drugs combined.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Today we know how devastating smoking can be to our bodies, and if you are looking to quit there is more help available now than ever before. Smoking cessation programs, medications, nicotine patches and gum, support groups and more are all tools that are out there to help you kick the habit, but the first step is acknowledging you are ready to quit and planning for success.
“You have to be really ready to quit,” says Edythe Naughton, registered nurse and health educator with Carilion Clinic. “Until a person is ready, you can offer help, guidance, understanding, incentives, but until a person reaches that point in their life where they’re really ready to quit, it’s going to be very difficult to quit.”
However, even if you think you’re ready, don’t get discouraged if you can’t stop right away. According to Naughton the average smoker attempts to quit seven times before he or she finally snuffs out the habit for good.
“People should not get discouraged if they fall off the wagon, that’s really common, and they just need to keep trying, because eventually they’ll be successful,” she says, adding that every time you start smoking again you have another opportunity to recognize the triggers and stumbling blocks that caused you to fail the last time. “Recognizing those is a good thing, because the next time you try you’re even more prepared.”
Here are a few more tips to help you stop smoking:
1. Pick a date to quit, and when it arrives, just stop smoking – don’t try to wean yourself off or it will be harder.
2. Start getting ready before you quit by paying attention to how often you smoke and by trying to recognize the triggers that cause you to smoke so you can avoid them when you do quit.
3. Let the people around you know you’re quitting to gather support and to make yourself accountable.
4. If you can, get a buddy to quit smoking with you. Nobody can understand like a fellow smoker. However, if you can’t find a buddy don’t let that prevent you from quitting, your other friends, even nonsmokers, can also provide support.
5. Have alternatives to smoking ready to go, such as snacks, gum and time for exercise.
6. Plan for some free time. When you do quit, you will find the time you used to spend smoking really adds up. Have activities planned to keep you busy during that time.
7. Eliminate temptation by throwing out your cigarettes and cleaning out your car.
8. Consider consulting your physician to see if a prescription medication is right for you. Drugs such as Zyban or Wellbutrin are anti-depressants that may help you deal with the cravings.