CHICAGO — Thursday, Nov. 20, the American Cancer Society encourages smokers to participate in The Great American Smokeout, a day designated to kick the habit. Smokers across the nation are encouraged to use that day to make a plan to quit smoking. American Cancer Society has many helpful tools smokers can use to help end their addiction to tobacco.
Roughly half of all cancer deaths in the United States can be prevented if Americans stopped using tobacco products, received evidence-based cancer screenings, maintained a healthy weight, ate a healthy diet and exercised regularly.
Studies have indicated that cigarettes are more addictive than heroin and that the first three weeks of quitting tobacco are said to be the most difficult. Research shows that smokers are most successful in kicking the habit and having long-term success when they have support such as: phone-based hotlines, stop-smoking groups, online quit groups, counseling, nicotine replacement products (NRP), prescription medicine to lessen cravings, guidebooks, encouragement and support from friends and family members.
If you or someone you love is looking to “kick the habit” this year, following are some helpful tips on how to break free from a smoking addiction:
• Don’t keep it a secret. Include your friends and family in your quitting process; they can offer much-needed support.
• You’re not alone. More and more people are trying to break free from cigarettes, and there are lots of support options available. Many communities, employers and health care organizations have free or low-cost counseling and support available to help you quit.
• Consider using medication to help you quit. There are prescriptions and over-the-counter medications that can help you deal with withdrawal symptoms or even help to reduce the urge to smoke. You’ll want to talk to your doctor first, but some medicine could help.
• Dump the memories. Clear the places where you usually smoke of anything that reminds you of cigarettes — like lighters, ashtrays or matches. Also, ask other smokers not to smoke around you, and clean your house and car thoroughly to remove the smell of cigarettes.
• Avoid places where smokers gather. Go to the movies or other places where smoking is not allowed.
• Stay calm and stay busy. You may feel some nervous energy, but it can be countered by physical and mental activities. Take long strolls and deep breaths of fresh air, and find things to keep your hands busy, like crossword puzzles or yard work. There are a lot of leaves on the ground at this time of year.
• Talk to your doctor. Before you begin any plan for quitting smoking, you should check with your doctor to see what might be the best approach for you. Remember, quitting smoking is very personal and there isn’t one perfect method.
• When the urge to smoke strikes, do something else. If you feel a craving for a cigarette coming on, take a deep breath, count to 10, and then do something else. Call a supportive friend. Do brief exercises such as push-ups, walking up a flight of stairs or touching your toes. Anything that will take your mind off your cravings.
• One will hurt. Many people fall into the trap of thinking that if they only have one cigarette, it’s OK. But even that one smoke can get you back in the habit of smoking full time. Keeping a supply of oral substitutes like carrots, apples, raisins or gum handy can help.
• Water, water everywhere. Drink lots of fluids to help curb cravings. Water is the best for this, and you’ll want to pass up on coffee and alcohol if they trigger your desire to smoke.
• Phone-based hotlines are available in all 50 states. For Illinois residents, the American Cancer Society recommends utilizing the Illinois Tobacco Quitline (866-QUIT-YES). Some local health departments have implemented a direct referral process with health centers and providers in their community. For more information, contact your local ACS office or local public health department. Or visit www.quityes.org.
• The American Cancer Society can help smokers find support 24 hours a day, seven days a week within their communities by visiting www.cancer.org/smokeout or by calling 1-800-227-2345.
The American Cancer Society created the trademarked concept for and held its first Great American Smokeout in 1976 as a way to inspire and encourage smokers to quit for a day. One million people quit smoking for a day at the 1976 event in California. The Great American Smokeout encourages smokers to commit to making a long-term plan to quit smoking for good.
Posted Nov. 19, 2014