Ready to break the habit?
Photo: grinvalds
Photo: grinvalds

Still smoking?

It’s never too late to quit

The number of reasons to stop smoking are many. Chief among them are improved health (for your sake and the sake of your loved ones), reducing the chance of lung cancer and other pulmonary diseases, not smelling bad, not having stained teeth, not spending a fortune on cigarettes and not having to sneak out of social gatherings and hide to grab a quick puff.

The reasons you wouldn’t want to quit smoking are…well…there are none and you know it.

So now that we’ve gone and made your pros and cons list about smoking cessation easy, let us share some information from the Centers for Disease Control on how to effectively stop smoking. This is a lifestyle change that is NEVER easy but oh, so worth it.

Of course there is comprehensive information at the CDC website https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/ but we’ll share some of the highlights to help start you on your journey to a smoke-free life.

Just like anything that you want to do well, it helps to develop a plan before you start so that you’re prepared every step of the way.

Briefly, here are the steps the CDC recommends including in a successful “stop smoking” plan.

Pick a Quit Date - Sooner is better than later. Make sure it’s a day when you won’t be experiencing a lot of personal stress. Mark it on the calendar with a big red circle and remind yourself of it constantly.

Remove Reminders of Smoking - Naturally, you want to remove all cigarettes, ashtrays, matches and lighters. Also, if your home or car has a strong odor of cigarette smoke, consider heavy duty cleaning including drapes and carpet which can hold the smell of smoke.

Identify Your Reasons to Quit Smoking - Your reasons are your own, but it’s a good idea to remind yourself of why you want to take this important step.

Identify Your Smoking Triggers - Do you always light up after a meal? With a glass of wine or a beer? Do you have a cigarette to calm down or get ready for bed? Make sure you know what situations stimulate your urge to smoke and note them down. You won’t be able to avoid every situation that triggers your urge to smoke, but knowing beforehand when a situation might cause you to falter can help you power through and stick to your plan.

Develop Coping Strategies - When the going gets tough, what will help you stay the course? Know what will help you and have those strategies in place before quitting day. This might be something to discuss with your physician to see if medication or other smoking cessation aid would be appropriate. You might also seek the counsel of a therapist if necessary.

Have Places You Can Turn to For Immediate Help - This could be a trusted friend or family member or it might be a support group. In this day and age of apps and internet, you might find technology provides an answer to the need for immediate support. On the CDC website, they recommend the QuitGuide app. The website reads, “[QuitGuide app is] a free app that helps you understand your smoking patterns and build the skills needed to become and stay smoke free. New to QuitGuide in 2016 is the ability to track cravings by time of day and location. Get inspirational messages for each craving you track, which keep you focused and motivated on your smoke free journey.”

Set Up Rewards for Quitting Milestones - Of course you should reward yourself for your achievements. Because nicotine is so highly addictive, smoking cessation can be rough. Dinner out or a movie is a wonderful way to reward yourself when you hit those weeks and months without a cigarette. For really significant milestones, it doesn’t hurt to think big. Treat yourself with a trip to a favorite vacation spot, buy the expensive designer shoes or schedule a class in something you’ve always wanted to learn.

Now that you’ve planned the “work” of smoking cessation, work the plan. Like anything else that deals with addiction, when you stop smoking, you do it minute-by-minute, day-by-day, and week-by-week until one day you realize the cravings are gone, your lungs have cleared and you feel an abundance of energy.

It will require perseverance but with the support of family, friends, your medical community and the myriad of helpful tips at https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/, you can do it. No ifs, ands, or (cigarette) butts.

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