Here’s How You Can Quit Smoking - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on January 13, 2015

Here’s How You Can Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking is just not easy – anyone who has attempted to quit and former smokers can attest to that.

If you're trying to quit smoking, get help
from the Crozer-Keyston Smoking 
Cessation Resource Center

Quitting smoking is just not easy – anyone who has attempted to quit and former smokers can attest to that. But, despite it being difficult, the fact remains that you can successfully quit.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General stopping smoking represents the single most important step that smokers can take to enhance the length and quality of their lives. That’s because smoking and tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and death in the U.S.

Smoking is responsible for nearly one in three cancer deaths and one in five deaths from all causes. Another 8.6 million people live with serious illnesses caused by smoking. However, nearly 42 million Americans still smoke – that’s almost one in five adults.

Smokers who quit their tobacco habit begin immediately reaping health benefits – and educating people about that fact is one of the main goals of The Great American Smokeout, which is celebrated on the third Thursday of November.

According to the American Cancer Society, Here are some of health benefits you can expect to see when you quit tobacco:

  • Your heart rate and blood pressure will drop within the first 20 minutes
  • The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to a normal level within 12 hours
  • Your circulation improves and your lung function increases within two weeks to three months
  • In one to nine months, your coughing and shortness of breath decrease
  • In one year, your excess risk of coronary heart disease becomes half that of a continuing smoker
  • In five years, your risk of mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder cancer are cut in half; cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker; and your risk of stroke decreases.
  • In 15 years, your risk of coronary heart disease becomes that of a non-smoker

If you’re a smoker interested in quitting, here are tips to make sure your attempt is successful.

Making the Decision to Quit Smoking

It is often said that addicts can’t quit unless they themselves want to. It doesn’t matter how many scary health statistics you hear or how many times someone tells you that smoking is bad for you, you have to make the decision for yourself. You have to be committed in order to successfully quit. Consider these questions:

  • Are you worried that you could get a smoking-related disease?
  • Do you really believe that the benefits of quitting outweigh the benefits of continuing to smoke?
  • Do you know someone who has had health problems because of smoking?
  • Are you ready to make a serious try at quitting?

Set the Date and Make a Plan

Once you have committed to quitting smoking, your next step is to pick the date you want to quit and make a plan. This date should be without in the next two weeks or within the next month. This will allow you time to come up with a plan without giving you too much time in which you can change your mind. You can choose a random date or one that’s special to you, such as your birthday, an anniversary or the day of The Great American Smokeout.

As you prepare for that date, remove all tobacco products and ashtrays from your home, car and work.

Tell your friends and family about your quit day. This can also involve asking a friend or family member who has successfully quit smoking to help you as well as asking those who still smoke to not light up around you.

Part of your plan should include what you can do when you face challenges, such as nicotine withdrawal. Before your quit day, figure out healthy ways you’ll be able to cope with the craving, which can include drinking water, taking a walk, or talking to a friend.

You can also have a discussion with your primary care doctor about tools you can use to help quit, such as nicotine replacement products to help with withdrawal or the prescription drugs bupropion (Zyban) or varenicline (Chantix). If you choose to use those prescription drugs, you will need to start taking them one to two full weeks before your designated quit date.

What to Do On Your Quit Date

This might be obvious, but you should resist the urge to smoke on this day. The urge to smoke can be strong, but it only lasts three to five minutes – and even one puff after you decide to quit can feed and strengthen your craving.

Try to stay active by walking, incorporating short bursts of exercise, activities and hobbies you enjoy. You will feel better and it will keep your mind off smoking, especially if you’re used to smoking during normal daily activities. Drinking a lot of water and juices can also help in this way. Think about how you can change your routine too – if you always smoked while you drank your morning cup of coffee, try drinking tea instead.

If you’re using nicotine replacement, begin using on your quit day. You should also plan on avoiding people who are smoking and situations where your urge to smoke is strong.

Drinking less alcohol or avoiding it completely can also help you successfully quit – drinking alcohol can trigger your urge to smoke.

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