Tips from Chris Kotsen, PsyD, CTTS, psychologist/tobacco treatment specialist with Somerset Medical Center's Tobacco Quitcenter
Quitting smoking is a tricky business. It takes most smokers at least 10-20 attempts at quitting before they remain smoke-free, but the fact that you’re reading this means you’re serious about quitting, or at least seriously considering it. The American Cancer Society is marking its 37th annual Great American Smoke-Out on November 15th, encouraging smokers to either quit, or make a plan to quit, on that day. I know some of you have probably been smoking for many years, but it’s not too late. This November, make a plan to quit for good.
There have never been more reasons or more ways to get support and assistance in reaching your goal than right now. In general, within one year of quitting, your risk of heart disease will be lowered by fifty percent compared to when you were smoking. In five years, your risk of stroke will be lowered to that of a non-smoker. In ten years, your risk of lung cancer will decrease by fifty percent, as will your risk of other cancers, including mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder and kidney cancers.
Of course you do not need to wait a year to begin feeling the effects of quitting; within twenty minutes of your last cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure will begin to return to normal, healthy levels.
When making the decision to quit, seek support from community health organizations and try implementing their tips and advice. Somerset Medical Center offers both specialized individual and group counseling to provide different levels of support, and there are also a number of available nicotine replacement products like gum, patches and lozenges (plus non-nicotine quitting medications) to further help you in your efforts. Of course, these tools should not be the only weapons you have in your arsenal. Consider trying out the following tips to get through your cravings and stay smoke-free.
- Track Your Cravings. Use a stop watch to keep track of how long your cravings last. Your cravings may seem long-lasting, but in reality, most only last a few minutes. By breaking your cravings up into more manageable episodes, you may find conquering them an easier task. Each craving beaten, leads to smaller cravings down the road!
- Try Substitutions. For many, accommodating your oral fixation is a serious part of successfully quitting. There will be times when the nicotine craving is not as strong as the feeling that something is missing. When you get a craving, try using sunflower seeds, cinnamon sticks, and other substitutions to keep your oral fixation at bay. The healthy snack may also reduce the amount of weight gained during the quitting process.
- Don’t Quit Alone. Friends and family can serve as excellent support groups, but if you prefer, there are also plenty of other places a smoker can receive the support they need during their time of transition, including local hospitals and community organizations.
For information on living tobacco free and how to get started visit the sites below and spend this November 15th smoke-free: