Cigarette smoking leads to about 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States. This is an important reason to consider quitting smoking, and the sooner the better. If you quit smoking you will experience some important health benefits that can be felt almost immediately. Former smokers have fewer illnesses, such as colds, flu, bronchitis and pneumonia, and have lower blood pressure, improved circulation, and lung capacity. Here are a few tips to help you on your journey to a smoke free life.
Set a date to quit smoking and make a plan.
Once you make the important decision to quit smoking, you should set a date to quit. This is a key first step, and should be done within a month of your decision to quit smoking.
Make a plan that is realistic for you to increase your chances of quitting. A good place to start is looking at free tools online at smokefree.gov or through the American Cancer Society’s toll free line 1-800-227-2345. To prepare your quit plan you should consider these tips for a successful outcome:
- Choose your reasons for quitting: Include such reasons as having a healthier lifestyle, fewer illnesses, saving money, or for loved ones.
- Identify your smoking triggers: Consider those situations that increase your craving to smoke, and make a plan to avoid these triggers. After you have been successfully smoke free for a period of time, you may be able to adjust how you handle these triggers. Some habitual triggers may occur while watching TV, talking on the phone, drinking alcohol or coffee, driving or taking a work break. Certain social situations may also increase your desire to smoke, such as going to bars, or a social event, or being around someone else who is smoking.
- Prepare to fight your cravings: In the first few minutes that you trigger a desire to smoke, have a plan in mind, such as stocking up on oral substitutes – sugarless gum, carrots, hard candy, straws or toothpicks.Stay busy and keep yourself occupied with healthier activities such as exercise to relieve stress and other triggers.
- Get rid of smoking reminders: Toss anything in your home, car or workplace that may tempt you to smoke. Wash your clothing to get rid of the smoke smell, clean out your car, toss out matches, ash trays or any cigarette butts.
- Develop a support system: You will be more likely to succeed if you have a network of family and friends you have enlisted to support you in your efforts. Let them know what they can specifically do to help you. Get advice from friends who have successfully quit smoking.