Are you resolved to butt out?
If you’re considering quitting smoking, odds are you already know and understand the risks associated with this unhealthy habit. According to the American Heart Association1, smoking:
- Is the most preventable cause of death in the United States
- Is linked to about 90% of lung cancers in the United States
- Accounts for almost one third of deaths from coronary heart disease
- Increases your risk for cancer of the bladder, throat, mouth, kidneys, cervix, and pancreas
So obviously the reasons for quitting are very compelling. In fact, just 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your heart rate will start to drop towards a more normal range, and as soon as 24 hours after you stop smoking your risk of heart attack will already have begun to drop. One year smoke-free lowers your risk of heart disease by 50%, and by 15 years that risk is back to the same level as someone who doesn’t smoke.2
The trick is, of course, taking the leap and making it stick. Nicotine is an incredibly addictive drug, so it can be challenging to stick with your plan to butt out. Thankfully there are many resources available to help you on your journey to better health.
5 tips for quitting smoking
- Have a plan. Before you smoke that last cigarette, decide what day you want to quit, choose a method for quitting, and decide if you need medicine to help you. Having a concrete plan of action that includes lining up additional help if you feel you may need it can help you stay the course.
- Tell a friend. Or tell many friends! Sometimes making it publicly known that you’re going to quit can give you additional motivation to stick with it. With all those eyes watching, it might be easier to keep from slipping up.
- Prepare yourself for the cravings. They are going to happen – that’s a fact – so be realistic and plan how you’re going to cope with them before they hit. Visit Determined To Quit to read more about what the first week is like, and how to cope with withdrawal.
- Ask for help. Don’t be a hero. If you need help from family, friends or a medical professional, reach out and ask for it. Everyone wants to help you achieve your goal, so they will do whatever they can to make sure you reach it. Check out Smokers’ Helpline for an online quit program, free help by phone and other valuable resources.
- Be patient. If quitting was easy there would be no need for this article or the countless resources available online. What you’re planning to do is challenging, so don’t beat yourself up if you find it difficult or slip up. It happens. Simply set a new quit date and start again.
The rewards of finally being smoke-free are well worth the effort. Know that you’re taking a courageous and important step towards better health, and be proud of the way you’re choosing to live a longer and healthier life.
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