Gone are the days when cigarette smoking was portrayed as glamorous and elegant. Thanks to awareness campaigns, higher tobacco taxes and smoking bans in public places, Americans are gradually tamping out the habit.
If you’re interested in becoming a former smoker, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together some helpful information that can help you understand, connect and quit – for good.
Get the facts.
It’s true: cigarette smoking patterns in the U.S. are decreasing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fewer adults smoke cigarettes today than in any year since 1965, when they began gathering data. Still, approximately 15% of American adults are active smokers. That means they’re at a much greater risk for developing a variety of chronic health issues, many of which can be fatal. Cigarette smoking is the cause of more than 480,000 deaths every year in the U.S. The good news is that it’s also the most preventable cause of death in this country. The even better news is that the vast majority of adults who smoke – more than two-thirds of them – say they want to quit.
Join the club.
Any time is a good time to quit smoking, but November is a great time! The Great American Smokeout takes place annually on the third Thursday of the month. This year, on November 17, smokers all around the country will participate. The Smokeout, which is sponsored by the American Cancer Society, is designed to support anyone who wants to quit the habit immediately or wants to make a plan to quit in the future. Local events provide resources, support and a sense of community. If you want to take part, you can find more information here. Brown & Toland Physicians lists smoking cessation programs on the Brown & Toland Physicians website.
Count the reasons.
There are many reasons to quit smoking. Use any or all of them to motivate you.
- Your health. As soon as you quit smoking, your body begins to recover. Your blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature will all start to come down. You will breathe more easily as your lungs recover. Your risk for cancer, heart attack and stroke drops sharply.
- Your appearance. Smoking deprives the skin of oxygen and nutrients, speeding up the aging process. It also yellows your teeth and fingernails. Quitting will halt these effects.
- Your wallet. A pack of cigarettes can run anywhere from $5 to $12, depending on where you live. A recent study estimated that a pack-a-day smoker spends between $786,346 and $1.5 million on cigarettes over the course of a lifetime.
- Your loved ones. Second-hand smoke is harmful to your family members as well as strangers, and is most dangerous to young children. Your exhaled smoke can cause multiple health issues in the people around you.
Use the tools.
Smoking is addictive, so it can be a very tough habit to break. That’s why many people find it easier to get help quitting rather than trying to do it on their own. The trick is to find the combination of tools that will work for you. Explore these options:
- Nicotine replacement. Gum, lozenges and patches satisfy the craving for nicotine in gradually decreasing amounts.
- Support groups. Connect with others who are also trying to quit. Join an online or telephone-based stop-smoking group or find one you can attend in-person in your community.
- Counseling. Consider working with a professional to identify and manage your smoking triggers. Some people also find success with hypnotherapy as a way of changing habits.
- Prescription medication. Several medicines are available to help people kick the smoking habit. Talk to you doctor about whether any of these options would be suitable for you.
- Reading materials. Pick up one of the many books devoted to quitting or browse the rich archive of written resources available online to anyone looking for tips and information.
- Encouraging friends and family. Engage the help of those closest to you. Ask them to be active participants in your quest to quit
Find the way.
The first step in any journey is often the most difficult. But if that journey delivers you to a smoke-free future, it’s worth taking. If you’ve read to the end of this article, it shows you have an interest in quitting. So take the next step, even if it’s a small one. Go a day, an evening or even just an hour without a cigarette. Then do it again. Before long, you may find yourself establishing a new set of healthier habits.