Living Well

Smoking: It’s time to kick butts

Smoking: It’s time to kick butts

The most important thing cigarette smokers can do to improve their health is to stop smoking, but quitting isn’t easy. It takes commitment, planning, and usually more than one attempt.

More than 37 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of cancer death in the United States, accounting for 29% of all cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.

About the Great American Smokeout

Every year, on the third Thursday of November, smokers across the nation take part in the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout.

The Great American Smokeout event challenges people to stop using tobacco and helps people learn about the many tools they can use to help them quit and stay tobacco free.

If you’re trying to quit, you’re not alone. Each year, about 20 million American smokers try to quit. Only about 1.4 million succeed.

Quitting smoking improves health immediately and over the long term at any age. It’s hard to quit, but you can increase your chances of success with help. Getting help through counseling or medications can double or triple the chances of quitting successfully.

Here are some tips from our team to help you kick the habit for good:

Line up help

  • Ask for the support of your family and friends.
  • Join a smoking cessation class or ask your healthcare provider for a referral to a psychologist who specializes in helping people quit smoking.
  • Ask your healthcare provider about nicotine replacement products. Also ask about prescription medicines that can help you quit. It may take some time to find a product and schedule that works for you.

Set a quit date

  • Choose a date in the next 2 to 4 weeks.
  • After picking a day, mark it in bold letters on a calendar.

Your quit list

Ideas to stop smoking include:

  • ​​​​​​​Start by giving up cigarettes at the times you least need them.
  • Keep some fruit close by at the times you are most likely to reach for a cigarette. For many people, smoking has an oral fixation component. This must be recognized and replaced by a healthy habit.
  • Use a nicotine replacement product instead of a cigarette.
  • ​​​​​​​Write down a few more ideas.

Set limits

  • Limit where you can smoke. Pick one room or a porch. Smoke only in that place.
  • Make smoking outdoors a house rule. Other smokers won’t tempt you as much.
  • Talk with smokers around you about your intent to stop smoking. Then they can show consideration for you and limit their smoking around you.
  • Hang a list of “quit benefits” in the spot where you smoke. Put one on the refrigerator and one on your car dashboard.

Additional Resources

  • American Lung Association helpline (800-548-8252)
  • National Cancer Institute helpline: 1–877–44U–QUIT (1–877–448–7848)
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