Most people understand that tobacco is not healthy for people. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), smoking leads to disease and damages nearly every organ and cell in the human body. Cigarette smoking is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
More than 480,000 deaths are a result of cigarette smoking. Smoking causes 90% of all lung cancer deaths and has many other risks:
- Increases the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, high heart rate, high blood pressure)
- Increases the risk of respiratory disease (COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis)
- Increase the risk of many types of cancer (not just lung cancer)
- This list could keep going; however, we can sum it up by saying smoking damages all cells and organs throughout our body and is devastating to human health.
Now that’s the bad news… The good news; however, is that change is possible and you can stop this highly addictive habit. Once you stop smoking (after 15 years) your lungs could completely repair themselves and your risk is like that of a non-smoker. After 10 years of quitting, your risk of dying from lung cancer decreases 50%.
If you are a tobacco user and want to quit, you are not alone. More than two thirds of American adults want to quit. Mark Twain once said “Quitting smoking is easy, I have done it hundreds of times…” His quote highlights the challenge that is quitting smoking; however, you must believe in yourself and know that you can quit. Quitting is hard because you are dealing with the dependency of tobacco and nicotine as well as the behavioral conditioning of quitting smoking.
You matter, your health matters. Consider why you would like to stop smoking and then start preparing for the road forward. The key is to focus on daily progress and practice consistency. Strategies that may help you stop smoking include:
- Take advantage of complementary support offerings: Free coaching at 1-800-QUIT NOW, free online resources, free texting services and mobile and tablet apps.
- Discuss the pros and cons of tobacco cessation medications with your medical provider.
- Utilize over the counter nicotine replacement therapy (patch, gum, lozenge) to help wean you off.
- Select a quit day and stop using tobacco products cold turkey.
- Gradually reduce your tobacco use (each week decrease the amount of cigarettes you smoke by 20%) and smoke less strong cigarettes.
- Create and implement a personal reward system to keep you focused and motivated.
- Avoid triggers that may cause you to smoke.
- Implement healthy lifestyle behaviors to replace the unhealthy behavior of tobacco use (exercise, sleep, manage stress better, eating well)
As you prepare for and work towards your goal of stopping smoking; focus on progress, not perfection. Please remember that you can quit and deserve to be tobacco free.