5 tips to kick smoking
There are lots of tips and tricks to help people stop smoking but, as a former smoker and instructor of the smoking cessation classes at the Barnard Health & Cancer Information Center, Kathy Jones, believes these are crucial.
Write down why you want to quit (the benefits of quitting): live longer, feel better, for your family, save money, smell better, find a mate more easily, etc. You know what’s bad about smoking and you know what you’ll get by quitting. Put it on paper and read it daily.
Switch your focus. You’re going to need something new to focus on instead of smoking. Choosing something healthy would be the best option. Exercise is a good trade, even if it’s just walking. If you used to smoke every day, see if you can commit to exercising every day. If you smoked a few days a week, exercise a few days a week.
Begin an exercise program. Exercise is simply incompatible with smoking. Exercise relieves stress and helps your body recover from years of damage from cigarettes. If necessary, start slow, with a short walk once or twice a day. Build up to 30 to 40 minutes of rigorous activity, 3 or 4 times per week. Of course, consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.
Ask your family and friends to support your decision to quit. Ask them to be completely supportive and non-judgmental. Let them know ahead of time that you will probably be irritable and even irrational while you withdraw from your smoking habit.
Don’t give up. When people commit to stop smoking, it generally takes 6-7 attempts. Don’t let this be discouraging; keep trying. Habits take a while to form; they’re going to take longer to break.
Effects of quitting after:
- 20 minutes: Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
- 12 hours – The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
- 2 weeks to 3 months – Your circulation improves, and your lung function increases.
- 1 to 9 months – Coughing and shortness of bread decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) start to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing their ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs and reduce the risk of infection.
- 1 year – The excess risk of coronary artery disease is half that of a person who continues to smoke.
- 5 years – Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder are cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2 to 5 years.
- 10 years – Your risk of dying from lunch cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. The risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases.
- 15 years – Your risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker. Quitting smoking also lowers the risk of diabetes, lets blood vessels work better and helps the heart and lungs. Quitting while you are younger will reduce your health risks more, but quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke.
Contact the Missouri Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-900-784-8669).
Call. It’s free. It works.