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Smoking: 5 tips to help you quit

By The Health News Team | November 17, 2022
Person breaking cigarette

Smoking is the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. It causes about 1 in 5 deaths. But despite these tragic numbers, approximately 34 million American adults still smoke cigarettes.

The reason? Quitting is hard.

Smoking is an addiction and kicking the habit can be a long journey with many bumps in the road. The good news is that people successfully quit smoking every day by focusing on a clear plan and leaning on the support offered by friends and family, counseling or medications.

"To quit smoking, you must be ready emotionally and mentally," says Dr. Charles Redfern, a hematologist-oncologist affiliated with Sharp Community Medical Group, and the medical director of medical oncology for the Laurel Amtower Cancer Institute and Neuro-Oncology Center at Sharp Memorial Hospital.

"Some people are more ready to quit than others,” he says. “But once you make the commitment to change, you do have the strength to put the habit behind you."

The lifecycle of quitting a smoking addiction typically happens in five stages:

  • Stage 1: Precontemplation, or indifference
    The person does not want to quit but may try because they feel pressured.

  • Stage 2: Contemplation, or consideration
    The person wants to quit someday. They have not taken steps to quit but want to.

  • Stage 3: Preparation
    The person takes small steps to quit, such as cutting back on smoking or switching to a lighter brand.

  • Stage 4: Action
    The person puts a plan into action for quitting. They make changes in their actions and environment to help cope with urges to smoke. The person copes with those urges by following the plan and remains smoke-free for six months.

  • Stage 5: Maintenance
    The person has not smoked for one year. Relapsing is common. In fact, 75% of those who quit smoke again. Most smokers have tried to quit three times before successfully quitting.

Tips to help you quit
Every smoker knows that quitting is a challenge. They’re also familiar with the common bevy of excuses that stand in the way. These tips can help you break those barriers and set yourself up for success:

  1. Remind yourself that it’s never too late to quit.
    While it’s best to quit smoking as early as possible, quitting at any age will enhance the length and quality of your life.

  2. Learn from your past experiences.
    Most smokers have tried to quit before and get discouraged thinking about previous attempts. Instead of looking at your past experiences as failures, treat them as steps on the road to future success. Think about what helped you during those tries and what you’ll do differently as you try again.

  3. Buddy up or share your intentions with others.
    Telling your friends and family that you’re trying to quit and enlisting their support can help ease the process. Friends who also smoke may even join you in trying to quit. And if you need additional support, expert help is available.

  4. Explore the option of medication.
    There are seven FDA-approved medications, including some in the form of patches or gum, that can help you quit. Many people don’t use them correctly or don’t use them for long enough, so be sure to follow the directions on all medication labels.

  5. Have faith in yourself.
    Don’t forget — every smoker has the ability to quit. The trick is finding the right combination of techniques that work best for you. And above all, keep trying.

"If you're ready to take the next step, there are many online resources available," says Dr. Redfern. "Some of the best include Kick It California, the American Cancer Society and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You are not the first person to embark on this journey and you won’t be the last. The important thing is that you do it — for your health and the health of those around you.”

Register for a free smoking cessation webinar; get the latest health and wellness news, trends and patient stories from Sharp Health News.

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