Quit Smoking and Breathe Easy
“I knew I had to quit for real when I was in the hospital and the doctor told me I’d just had a heart attack at only 52 years old,” says Colette Wilson, a 54-year-old librarian from Oxnard, CA.
She had made many attempts at quitting smoking, but she always found herself picking up the pack again within a matter of hours or days. The wakeup call from her doctor really motivated her to make a positive and lasting change.
Whether you have a health scare or just want to feel better, you are certainly not alone in wanting to quit smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 70% of the 45 million smokers in the United States want to quit. So, you’ll have plenty of company in the ranks of those who did. After all, more than 50% of those adults who ever smoked are now non-smokers.
The important thing is to begin the journey. In the first 30 days, you can expect to feel excited about the thought of quitting smoking, but possibly ambivalent about whether you want to. Many smokers unwittingly reinforce the habit in each other by talking about how horrible the process of quitting smoking can be, making it even tougher to stop smoking. Fortunately, the process doesn’t have to lead to misery. In the first 30 days, you can commit to becoming smoke free by developing a plan, rallying support from friends and family and finding the right resource. Whether this is your first attempt or you’ve been through it a few times, know that you can quit smoking.
Planning to Stop Smoking
One reason individuals struggle to overcome smoking is that they don’t plan ahead. And, according to Amy Lazev, Ph.D., of the Fox Chase Cancer Center, “It often takes multiple attempts before success is permanent.”
One mistake many smokers face is trying to quit cold turkey. Statistically speaking, cold turkey has about a 25% success rate. A quit plan can nearly double the likelihood that you will make it through your attempt. Think of your quit plan as a roadmap to success. Without it, you will find it too easy to fall back on old habits.
In addition to choosing a date to quit smoking—ideally no more than two or three weeks from the day you decide to stop smoking—you can increase your chances for success by understanding your triggers and habits. Get a simple journal or notepad, and note how often you smoke and under what circumstances. If you do this for a few days, you’ll be able to anticipate the situations and times when you are most likely to want a cigarette. Once you know your triggers, you can create a set of strategies to overcome those urges.