Passport to wellness: Commit to quit

Maryland Gazette
22 October 2008
     

What is the harm in one more pack? That is what most smokers tell themselves when it comes to quitting.

But one pack turns into another and another until a few years and hundreds of packs of cigarettes later, they are back to asking themselves the same question.

The health risks involved with smoking are no secret. From increased heart attack risk to cancer, smoking is responsible for a host of illnesses. In addition, we should not forget about the risks of second-hand smoke. Family members of a smoker have a 20-percent increased chance of contracting lung cancer and a 30-percent increased chance in developing heart disease.

Studies show second-hand smoke causes an array of illnesses in children, such as more frequent ear infections, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and sudden infant death syndrome.

So why do people continue to put their own health and the health of their family members at risk, so they can continue to smoke?

Most smokers think about quitting all the time because they know it is harmful to their health. But that thought seldom results in action. Statistics show 70 out of 100 people who smoke want to quit but do not, or perhaps feel they cannot.

The addiction of smoking leaves many feeling seemingly powerless to quit. Many have tried to quit in the past, but the withdrawal and cravings are too intense to overcome. Quitting takes time and an enormous amount of effort.

For most, it is not something that can be achieved on the first attempt. But with willpower and a commitment to succeed, the power to quit smoking is an achievable goal for all.

There are several methods available to help people kick the habit. Everyone is different, so each person needs to find the method that works best for them. Some people can quit cold-turkey, while others need medical treatment. Whichever method is used, here are a few steps to help overcome the obstacles associated with quitting:

Adapt the environment. Smokers should remove all cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays and matches from their environment. Eliminating these things from sight will make it harder to smoke.

Replace cigarettes. When the urge to smoke arises, a smoker should occupy their mouth with alternatives such as chewing gum, hard candy, drinking water or talking. Using these items as replacements will help fight the tendency of resorting to a cigarette.

Change routine. Changing simple aspects of a daily routine can help a smoker overcome the common times during the day that they associate with smoking. Changing the route they drive to and from work, drinking tea instead of coffee, or going on a walk after dinner are all ways to help fool the mind to stop old habits.

Reduce stress. Stress is the leading reason most people say they smoke. Learn more productive ways to relax and clear the mind. Exercising, meditating, taking a hot bath or reading a book are all healthy ways to reduce stress and create positive feelings.

The commitment to quit is not easy, and many will want to give up by thinking tomorrow is another day. Now is the time to start the path to a healthier and happier life. Put down that last cigarette and throw away that last pack. There's no time like the present to commit to quit.


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