Tricks to kick that smoking habit
Kicking any habit, be it smoking, alcohol or drugs, can be one of the most difficult health challenges to face. But doing so will set you on the right path to being fit and active, instead of tied to an addiction that keeps you from maintaining a positive lifestyle – physically and emotionally.
“Addictions can be hard to overcome, but when you cross that big hurdle, you realize just how much you were letting that cigarette rule your life in an extremely unhealthy way,” says Dr. Ravi Nallamothu, who specializes in pulmonology, at the Banner Health Clinic in Loveland, CO.
Cigarette smoking is directly linked to lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, kidney disease, peripheral vascular disease, throat cancer, bladder cancer and a host of other chronic problems.
And there are other good reasons to quit. Your loved ones, including children, pay a direct price for your smoking habit. Secondhand smoke increases the risk for heart attack, even among non-smokers, and especially among those who already have heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And, according to the CDC, secondhand smoke causes ear infections, asthma attacks, coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath, respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), among children.
“Don’t risk the health of your loved ones for the sake of your habit,” says Dr. Nallamothu.
If nothing else motivates you, think about the cost of smoking and what else you could be doing with that money you save.
Here are ways to quit the smoking habit.
Before you quit
- Select a date to quit and stick to it!
- Tell everyone you are going to quit.
- Postpone your first tobacco use of the day by one hour each day.
- Don't carry tobacco with you; make it inconvenient to use.
- Create a "survival pack." Possible contents: sugarless gum, hard candy, cinnamon sticks, toothpicks, straws, pretzels, fruit, sunflower seeds, vegetable sticks, aspirin for headaches, tissues for sweaty palms, list of reasons you are quitting and a picture of those you love.
"The more prepared you are, the better the chances of success,” says Dr. Nallamothu.
On the day you quit
- Throw away all tobacco, ashtrays, lighter and spittoons.
- Keep very busy.
- Go places you can't smoke or chew (mall, movies, etc).
- Surround yourself with non-tobacco using people.
- Clean your clothes to rid them of tobacco odor.
“Try to stay away from people and places whom you associate with smoking,” suggests Dr. Nallamothu.
Handling your urges
- Remember, urges last only two to three minutes.
- Light an incense candle instead.
- Exercise or go for a walk.
- Keep your hands busy (do a puzzle, write a letter).
- Take a shower.
- Call a friend or family member for support.
“It’s like dieting,” says Dr. Nallamothu. “If you can resist that bag of chips or the bar of chocolate for a few minutes, the urge passes and you’re ready to opt for a healthier choice.”
Remember the four "Ds"
- Delay (2-3 minutes).
- Drink a glass of water.
- Deep breathing.
For your successful tobacco-free life
- Celebrate your success; treat yourself to something nice with the money you would have spent on tobacco.
- Ask a friend or spouse to quit with you or get a buddy to support you.
- Don't think in terms of never using tobacco again - take it one day at a time.
- Find ways to handle trigger times and places (drinking coffee, driving, after meals).
- Brush your teeth or use mouthwash after meals.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
“The reward at the end of this journey is being a healthier, happier version of you,” says Dr. Nallamothu.