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Quit Smoking


What do I need to know about quitting?

It’s hard to quit smoking, but you can do it. To have the best chance of quitting and staying a non-smoker, you need to know what you’re up against, what your options are, and where to go for help. You’ll find this information here.

It’s so hard to quit smoking because of the substance called nicotine. Nicotine is a drug found naturally in tobacco. It’s as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Over time, a person becomes physically dependent on and emotionally addicted to nicotine. This physical dependence causes unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit. The emotional and mental dependence (addiction) make it hard to stay away from nicotine after you quit. Studies have shown that to quit and stay quit smokers must deal with both the physical and mental dependence.

One should quit smoking because-

•Your health- Health concerns usually top the list of reasons people give for quitting smoking. This is a very real concern: smoking harms nearly every organ of the body.
•Cancer- Nearly everyone knows that smoking can cause lung cancer, but few people realize it is also linked to a higher risk for many other kinds of cancer too, including cancer of the mouth, nose, sinuses, lip, voice box (larynx), throat (pharynx), esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, ovary, cervix, stomach, colon, rectum, and acute myeloid leukemia.
•Lung diseases- Smoking greatly increase your risk of getting long-term lung diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis. These diseases make it harder to breathe, and are grouped together under the name chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
•Heart attacks, strokes, and blood vessel diseases- Smokers are twice as likely to die from heart attacks as non-smokers. Smoking is a major risk factor for peripheral vascular disease, a narrowing of the blood vessels that carry blood to the leg and arm muscles. Smoking also affects the walls of the vessels that carry blood to the brain (carotid arteries), which can cause strokes. Smoking can cause abdominal aortic aneurysm, in which the layered walls of the body’s main artery (the aorta) weaken and separate, often causing sudden death. And men who smoke are more likely to develop erectile dysfunction (impotence) because of blood vessel disease.
•Blindness and other problems- Smoking increase the risk of macular degeneration, one of the most common causes of blindness in older people. It promotes cataracts, which cloud the lens of the eye. It also causes premature wrinkling of the skin, bad breath, gum disease, tooth loss, bad-smelling clothes and hair, and yellow teeth and fingernails.
•Special risks to women and babies- Women have some unique risks linked to smoking. Women over 35 who smoke and use birth control pills have a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and blood clots in the legs. Women who smoke are more likely to miscarry (lose the baby) or have a lower birth-weight baby. Low birth-weight babies are more likely to die or have learning and physical problems.
•Years of life lost due to smoking-  Based on data collected in the late 1990s, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that adult male smokers lost an average of 13.2 years of life and female smokers lost 14.5 years of life because of smoking.

How to quit?

Smokers often say, “Don’t tell me why to quit, tell me how.” There’s no one right way to quit, but there are some requirements for quitting with success. These 4 factors are key:

  • Making the decision to quit
  • Picking a Quit Day and making a plan
  • Dealing with withdrawal
  • Staying tobacco-free (maintenance)

 

Making the decision to quit

The decision to quit smoking is one that only you can make. Others may want you to quit, but the real commitment must come from you.

Think about why you want to quit.

  • 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 their smoking?

 

Are you ready to make a serious try at quitting?

If you are thinking about quitting, setting a date and deciding on a plan will help move you to the next step.

Setting a quit date and making a plan

What’s important about picking a Quit Day?

Once you’ve decided to quit, you’re ready to pick a quit date. This is a very important step. Pick a day within the next month as your Quit Day.

Remember that if you are planning to use a prescription drug, you will need to talk with your doctor about getting it in time for your Quit Day.

Prepare for your Quit Day

There is no one right way to quit. Most smokers prefer to quit cold turkey — they stop completely, all at once, with no medicines or nicotine replacement. They smoke until their Quit Day and then quit. Some may smoke fewer cigarettes for 1 or 2 weeks before their Quit Day. Another way is to cut down on the number of cigarettes you smoke a little bit each day. This way, you slowly reduce the amount of nicotine in your body. You might cut out cigarettes smoked with a cup of coffee, or you might decide to smoke only at certain times of the day. It makes sense to cut down in order to reduce withdrawal symptoms, but this can be hard to do.

Here are some steps to help you get ready for your Quit Day:

•Pick the date and mark it on your calendar.
•Tell friends and family about your Quit Day.
•Get rid of all the cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car, and at work.
•Stock up on oral substitutes — sugarless gum, carrot sticks, hard candy, cinnamon sticks, coffee stirrers, straws, and/or toothpicks.
•Decide on a plan. Will you use NRT or other medicines? Will you attend a stop-smoking class? If so, sign up now.
•Practice saying, “No thank you, I don’t smoke.”
•Set up a support system. This could be a group program or a friend or family member who has successfully quit and is willing to help you. Ask family and friends who still smoke not to smoke around you, and not to leave cigarettes out where you can see them.
•If you are using bupropion or varenicline, take your dose each day leading up to your Quit Day.
•Think about your past attempts to quit. Try to figure out what worked and what didn’t.
           
Dealing with withdrawal

Withdrawal from nicotine has 2 parts — the physical and the mental. The physical symptoms are annoying but not life-threatening. Still, if you’re not prepared for them, they can tempt you to go back to smoking. Nicotine replacement and other medicines can help reduce many of these symptoms. Most smokers find that the mental part of quitting is the bigger challenge.

Use these ideas to help you stay committed to quitting

•Avoid temptation.
•Change your habits.
•Choose other things for your mouth
•Reward yourself.
•Staying smoke-free

 


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