Why do I still smoke? How can I quit? These are questions that most smokers ask themselves almost daily. We are all familiar with the hazards of smoking, but there is still nothing easy about quitting. The fear of developing lung cancer, strokes, heart disease, emphysema, and other lung diseases often doesn’t do enough to help people quit because nicotine is an addiction.
Anti-smoking experts recommend people who want to quit ask themselves why they smoke. Is it for the buzz? To relax? Or just a bad habit? Once you understand why you smoke or what causes you to smoke, you can start to avoid situations that make you want a cigarette. For example, if you smoke while watching TV, try reading, doodling or sewing instead. If you smoke under stress, put your cigarettes in the bottom drawer of your dresser or the glove box in your car to reduce impulsive smoking.
Here are a few tips for quitting smoking:
- Hide all ashtrays, matches, etc.
- Get a supply of sugarless gum, toothpicks, etc. and keep them handy.
- Drink lots of extra liquids, but reduce coffee and alcohol.
- Tell everyone that you are quitting and when your quit date is going to be.
- When the urge to smoke hits, take a deep breath and hold it for 10 seconds, then release it slowly.
- Exercise to relieve tension; immediately walk around the block when the urge to smoke strikes.
- Try the buddy system and ask a friend or spouse to quit with you.
- Put the price of a pack of cigarettes in a jar each day that you do not smoke and watch it add up.
If you need additional help quitting, several prescription medications are now available. Nicotine replacement products such as patches, gum, or inhalers have been on the market for over a decade and help to reduce nicotine cravings. Wellbutrin is an antidepressant that helps with anxiety and reduces the urge to smoke. Chantix has the best success rate when started one week prior to a planned “quit date”.
What about vaping?
Many smokers are using vapor products, such as E-cigs, rather than traditional tobacco because they think it is safer and might help them quit smoking. These products do reduce coughing since they do not have as much tars or other incinerated products, but long-term safety is yet to be determined and unexplained deaths continue. Nicotine from any source does paralyze the bronchial cilia from properly clearing mucous. Recent studies show that up to 84% of adults that use E-cigs still smoke regular cigarettes, and less than 7% of smokers actually quit by using E-cigs. Some people actually smoke more because they use E-cigs in areas that regular cigarettes are not allowed, such as bars and restaurants.
Great American Smokeout
The American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout is Thursday, November 19, 2020. It is an opportunity for people who smoke to commit to healthy, smoke-free lives – not just for a day, but all year. If you are a smoker, use this day to challenge yourself to quit for 24 hours
Be sure to make a plan because preparing yourself beforehand can make quitting a lot easier. For more stop smoking suggestions, contact The American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 and ask for a free brochure “How to Quit Cigarettes” or call QUIT NOW at 1-800-784-8669 for immediate help.