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5 Tips to Quit Smoking
PreventionHealth & Wellness

5 Tips to Quit Smoking

August 11, 2021

Smoking is addictive. While it may have not taken long to become addicted to smoking, it takes time and effort to stop. That’s because tobacco products contain nicotine, a naturally occurring substance that can be as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Nicotine withdrawal causes uncomfortable physical and mental symptoms that last several weeks.

While this may seem discouraging, there’s good news. Withdrawal symptoms improve every day you stay tobacco-free. Not only that, but quitting smoking reduces your risk for several fatal conditions and diseases the longer you stick to it. As a general timeline:

  • 20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate drops
  • 12 hours after quitting, carbon monoxide levels in the body reduce and vital organs receive more oxygen
  • 1 year after quitting, your risk of heart attack is reduced
  • 2–5 years after quitting, your risk of stroke may be no greater than that of a nonsmoker
  • 5 years after quitting, your risk of mouth, throat, bladder and esophagus cancers is reduced by half
  • 10 years after quitting, your risk of death from lung cancer is reduced by half

The journey isn’t easy, but worth taking. Don’t wait until the perfect time to quit—that perfect time is now. Here are some tips to quit smoking that have helped others kick the habit.

1. Make Today Your Designated “Quit Date”

Quit Smoking on Calendar

Quitting smoking is a feat that should be celebrated. Choosing a day to remember as your quit date can be motivating. Don’t wait longer than the next two weeks to pick your quit date. Quitting today is ideal. By starting immediately, you’ll allow your body to start healing from tobacco damage.

Once your date is established, throw away all cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays. Don’t try to quit slowly by cutting back on cigarettes—even one cigarette can cause a slip up. Instead, spend the day reflecting on your plan to quit and finding motivation from others who have been successful in their smoking cessation journey.

2. Find Support

Willpower alone may not be enough to help you quit smoking. Don’t underestimate the power of motivation from others. Take advantage of all the resources available to you. These include:

  • Quitlines
  • Positive, trustworthy family and friends
  • Smartphone apps that track cravings
  • Smoking cessation specialists
  • Smoking cessation support groups
  • Social media groups
  • Telehealth visits with a healthcare provider
  • Text message quitting programs

3. Provide Distractions

Staying busy can keep your mind off smoking. Fill your schedule with healthy, meaningful distractions that enhance your life instead of harm your health. Commit to starting a new hobby during your quitting journey. Try a new exercise program, hiking, martial arts, dance, learning an instrument or volunteering.

4. Avoid Triggers

Removing cigarettes from your home is the first start, but you may not realize other things that create an urge to smoke. Avoid:

  • Doing activities that you link with tobacco.
  • Getting poor sleep, which can trigger you to want to smoke.
  • Going to places where smoking is allowed or encouraged.
  • Spending time with people who don’t encourage your decision to stop smoking.

5. Involve Your Physician

Your healthcare provider can be a valuable resource to quitting smoking. Your physician can reinforce healthy behaviors, give advice, and provide aids that help you quit, such as nicotine patches or gum.

If you need support on your smoking cessation journey, our family medicine and primary care providers are available to help. Request an appointment online.

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