Posted in Health and Wellness on Jan 18, 2019

January is the traditional time for heavy-hitting resolutions — lose weight, exercise more, spend more time with family, and one of the most difficult resolutions — to stop smoking.

But nowadays, there are so many resources to help smokers on their “quit journey” that can help increase the chances of success. 

The Centers for Disease Control has its own “Office on Smoking and Health,” with tons of statistics, resources, multimedia tools, tips and more.

One thing is universally understood — it typically takes a number of tries before you’re able to quit permanently. But it can, and has, been done. So many people have quit smoking, according to the CDC, that there are now more “former smokers” than there are current tobacco smokers in the U.S.

Finding support in the journey to quitting smoking can increase your chases of quitting permanently. This is the year to make your New Year’s resolution to quit smoking a successful one. 

“At this time of year, we know that many smokers make a resolution to quit and start off on a healthier course,” according to OSH director Corinne Graffunder in a press release. “If now is your time to quit tobacco, there are many tools available to help you find and follow a quit strategy that works for you.”

Smoking rates are at an all-time low, according to the CDC, but it is still the leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S. More than 480,000 people die every year in the U.S. due to smoking-related causes. Smoking also has a huge impact on health care, with tobacco use linked to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, emphysema and cancer. The residual impact to other people is dangerous as well — breathing secondhand smoke can cause many of the same illness as those a smoker can develop, according to the CDC.

It may take some time for a person to find the best way to quit smoking. Each method is individualized. But the CDC recommends a number of key steps that can help anyone: 

Pick a date to quit. Don’t postpone the date until the end of the year. Find a date in a week or two, and mark it on your calendar or phone. Tell people you’re a quitter. Let them know the best ways to help you as you stop smoking. List your personal reasons for stopping smoking. 

Get rid of the things that remind you of smoking, or enable your ability to smoke. Throw away cigarette packs and lighters. When you begin your smoking cessation journey, avoid the people, places and situations that made you want to smoke in the past. 

Find healthy strategies to ward off cravings.

No one will tell you that it’s easy to quit smoking. Cigarettes contain a drug called nicotine, and smoking makes a body dependent on it. When you stop smoking, you crave the drug and suffer though nicotine withdrawal. It can be horribly uncomfortable, especially in the first few weeks without nicotine. As with any addition — caffeine, prescription drugs, food — there are ways to get through these times of withdrawal. You may look for help from your family, friends or a counselor. There are some medications that help ease cravings as well.

Though it may take you time to quit, it’s important not to give up. If you find yourself really struggling, ask your physician about nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches, gum or lozenges that exude small doses of nicotine to help with cravings. 

Just keep in mind that it’s never too late to stop smoking, even if you’ve used tobacco for decades. Within a few short weeks of smoking cessation, your heart attack risk begins to drop, and your lung function improves. Your sense of smell and taste will improve and as the years pass, your risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease drop dramatically.

In today’s instant-information world, there are plenty of resources to help you stop smoking. There are apps that will tell you how much money you’ve saved by not buying cigarettes, and information about how your lifespan is likely extended because you don’t smoke. There’s 1-800-QUIT-NOW (or 1-855-DÉJELO-YA for Spanish speakers). And there’s even “Smoke-free, the round-the-clock support system that sends encouragement by text messages. 

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