How to Quit Smoking … for Good!
In the mid-1960s about two out of every five adults smoked. Today it’s more like one in five. However, although smoking rates have been dropping for decades, they actually are on thhe rise according to a national survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
You can reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease, not to mention save $2,000 a year, by kicking the smoking habit!
By now most people are well aware of the health hazards of cigarettes and other forms of tobacco. The CDC states:
“Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. Each year, an estimated 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million have a serious illness caused by smoking.
For every person who dies from smoking, 20 more people suffer from at least one serious tobacco-related illness. Despite these risks, approximately 43.4 million U.S. adults smoke cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco, cigars, and pipes also have deadly consequences, including lung, larynx, esophageal, and oral cancers.”
The best way to prevent these illnesses, of course, is to quit smoking – a task the majority of smokers say they want to do. According to the American Heart Association:
“More than four in five smokers say they want to quit. And each year about 1.3 million smokers do quit. With good smoking cessation programs, 20 to 40 percent of participants are able to quit smoking and stay off cigarettes for at least one year.”
That’s a great goal to have, as the health benefits of quitting can add up fast. The American Heart Association points out that:
- After one year off cigarettes, your extra smoking-related risk of coronary heart disease is reduced by half. After 15 years without smoking, the risk is similar to that for people who’ve never smoked.
- In 5 to 15 years, the risk of stroke for ex-smokers returns to the level of those who’ve never smoked.
- Male smokers who quit between ages 35 to 39 add an average of 5 years to their lives. Female smokers who quit in this age group add 3 years. Men and women who quit at ages 65 to 69 increase their life expectancy by 1 year.
Plus, if you currently smoke a pack a day, quitting smoking can save you about $2,000 a year!
The Top Five Tips to Kick the Habit
- Join a Support Group.
Once you’ve made the decision to quit smoking, start to look into the myriad of self-help options available. Resist the urge to rely on medications to help you quit, as these often carry significant side effects including hostility, agitation, depressed mood, and suicidal thoughts or actions. Instead, join a stop-smoking program like the American Lung Association’s “Freedom From Smoking Online.”
- Make a Plan for Quitting
Designate your “Quit Day,” mark it down on your calendar and begin to prepare yourself mentally for that day. Ideally, choose a time when stress in your life is at a minimum (such as right after the holidays). You can also begin to cut back on the number of cigarettes you smoke each day leading up to your Quit Day.
- Sign the No-Smoking Contract
The American Heart Association has a No-Smoking Contract you complete and sign in front of witnesses who will support you in your decision.
- Take Care of Yourself
After you quit and in the days leading up to your Quit Day, be sure to eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep and exercise. Daily exercise can help to improve your mood and help reduce your urge to replace cigarettes with unhealthy foods.
- Ask for Help When You Need It
If you’re having a tough day, ask a family member or friend for support. Rest assured that the array of feelings you may have upon quitting are normal and to be expected.“Be aware that smokers have different experiences when they quit,” says Norman Edelman, M.D. American Lung Association chief medical officer on lungusa.org. “Some may feel tired or even easily excitable. Others may feel lightheaded, nervous or irritable and experience headaches in addition to craving tobacco or sweets. Know these feelings are normal and may last for several weeks, but eventually they will pass.”
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As you reach and sustain your goal to quit smoking, be sure to mark each milestone (this may be each day, each week and then each month you’re smoke-free) by treating yourself with a favorite activity. Watch a special movie, visit with friends or engage yourself in a favorite hobby to reward your hard work.
Clearing Your Home and Life of Smoking
Quitting is not only a mental and physical body process — it’s also one that needs attention around your environment as well. By this we mean, make sure you clear your home of all smoking-related items, including extra cigarettes, matches, lighters, ashtrays and leftover butts. Do a thorough check of your home, office, and car to remove all of these items.
We also highly recommend you begin to “detox” your home of smoke and its residual particles that cling to upholstery, carpeting and clothing. Start with one of the most important aspects: your home’s air.
You will then need to do a thorough cleansing of your home, including all fabrics (curtains, upholstery, etc.), carpeting, rugs, woodwork, windows, and leather to get rid of smoke buildup.
Good luck on your journey to quit smoking and remember that each day you’re smoke-free is one more victory for your health!