By Julie Walker, Take Control Staff
Are you ready to quit smoking or using tobacco? November 16th is the Great American Smokeout, and we encourage you to use that date to make a plan to quit. Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the world. Quitting smoking has immediate short and long term benefits at any age.
Quitting is hard, but you can increase your chances of success with help. Programs like ours, along with counseling or medications, can double or triple your chances of quitting successfully.
Within minutes of smoking your last cigarette, your body begins to recover. From as early as 20 minutes, to up to 15 years later, your body heals. Your heart rate and blood pressure drop, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops, your circulation improves and lung function increases, coughing and shortness of breath decreases. Your risk of heart disease and heart attack drops significantly. Your cancer risk decreases.
Right away, you’ll notice that food tastes better, your sense of smell returns to normal, your breath, hair, and clothes smell better, your teeth and fingernails stop yellowing, and activities leave you less out of breath. Long term, you’ll also see improvements in how you look, including premature wrinkling of your skin, gum disease, and tooth loss.
You know the benefits of quitting, so now how do you do it?
- Decide to quit, and make a plan. Set a date. Decide how you want to quit – will you use go cold turkey, gradual withdrawal, nicotine replacement, prescription drugs, and/or try some alternative therapies such as hypnosis, acupuncture, etc.
- Prepare for your quit day. Mark the date on your calendar, tell family and friends and set up a support system, get rid of cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car, and work. Stock up on gum, carrots, hard candy, or other oral substitutes. Practice saying “no thank you, I don’t smoke.” Ask family and friends who still smoke not to smoke around you or leave cigarettes out. If you plan to use prescription drugs, pick them up before your quit date. Think about any past attempts to quit, and figure out what worked and what didn’t. Make a list of things you can do to stay busy.
- On your quit day. Do not smoke, not even one puff. Stay busy, use your list to go walking, hiking, activities, hobbies – things that don’t trigger you. Drink lots of water. If they are part of your plan, start using nicotine replacement or prescriptions. Attend a stop-smoking class, or follow your self-help plan. Avoid situations where the temptation or risk to smoke is strong, including avoiding people who smoke. Drink less alcohol, or completely avoid it. Think about how you can change your routine – use a different route to work, drink tea instead of coffee, eat meals in different places, or eat different foods.
- Fight the urge. Be prepared to feel the urge to smoke, it will pass whether you smoke or not. Use the 4 D’s to help fight the urge: DELAY for 10 minutes. Repeat if needed. DEEP BREATHE – close your eyes, slowly breathe in through your nose and out your mouth. Picture your lungs filling with fresh, clean air. DRINK WATER – slowly, sip by sip. DO SOMETHING ELSE – some activities trigger cravings, do something that doesn’t. Get up and move around.
- Celebrate small victories. Post about it on social media, and your friends will encourage you. Reward yourself with something you enjoy. Use an app such as Smoke Free to calculate how much money you’ve saved so far. Set a goal to reward yourself with something after you’ve saved a certain amount of money. Schedule a wellness exam to have medical results showing your health improvements in blood pressure and heart rate. Be kind to yourself and admire your strength.
We hope you choose this year to quit – let us know if we can help!