How To Quit Smoking
About 80 percent of America’s health care costs are linked to tobacco and alcohol—two legal forms of drugs. Tobacco-related illnesses alone are the single most preventable forms of death and cost the U.S. about $96 billion each year. The good news is that 70 percent of all smokers try to quit every year. The bad news is that only about 10 percent have the strength to quit smoking.
Most smokers want to quit their tobacco habits, but about 90 percent will fail. If smokers know how tobacco products are made and marketed to hook them, they will have a better understanding of the obstacles they must overcome when quitting the habit. However, quitting a tobacco habit is intended to be extremely difficult.
Remember, only 10 percent of those smokers who try to quit each year succeed. Seventy percent of smokers have tried to quit smoking at least once. Most could not explain why it is so difficult to quit smoking. They believe that it is weakness or a lack of determination. In reality, the deck is stacked against smokers. If too many people quit smoking, it can cost Big Tobacco billions. Therefore, quitting is not an option for most people. Hopefully, the information presented in this book will give smokers more insight into their habit so that they can tackle it head on. Knowledge is power against tobacco.
First, ask yourself where tobacco fits in your life? If you can isolate the benefits you derive from smoking it can help you replace it with something else. Then write down all of the reasons why you want to quit and refer to them in moments of weakness (cravings typically last from 10 seconds to 10 minutes). If necessary, quit smoking gradually and change your smoking habits (time, place, etc.).
Employer-based cessation programs are very effective and are growing in popularity. Given the health care costs and productivity impacts associated with smoking, these programs should continue to grow.
In addition, use exercise and hobbies to redirect your energy. There often is a 30 percent decrease in metabolism after quitting a tobacco habit, so avoiding weight-gain can be a challenge. Plus, exercise helps your body release endorphins, which can ease the discomfort of nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Other helpful tactics include:
- Quit with someone else. You probably started smoking with your friends. It’s also easier to quit with a friend. This gives you the social support and the encouragement you need to succeed. Plus, it helps to have someone who understands your withdrawal experience. Every time you feel weak, call your friend and talk it through.
- Take non-cigarette breaks. You likely have become accustom to taking smoke breaks during your day. Now, when you take breaks in the day, replace smoking with walks, reading or chewing gum.
- Tell the world you are quitting–don’t keep it to yourself. This public commitment can increase your support system, while solidifying your determination. People don’t like to fail in public.
- Avoid high-risk situations and frequently visit smoke-free environments. People are creatures of habit, so breaking bad habits often requires developing new living patterns. Resisting temptation is easier if you minimize your opportunities to smoke. Try to avoid places where you are accustomed to smoking and start experiencing new places and activities that take your mind off of smoking.
- Brace yourself to handle peer pressure. Chances are, you have friends that smoke with you on various occasions and they may not approve of, or understand, your desire to quit smoking. Smokers can act like a fraternity at times and won’t want you to leave the club. Don’t hide your desire to quit and share your motives for quitting. Remind them how difficult it is to quit and ask if they have ever tried to quit. As friends, ask them for support and understanding. Cigarettes don’t create meaningful or lasting friendships.
- Create a list of positive role models who can inspire you to follow their example. Do you know someone who has quit smoking who you admire and respect? Develop a list of positive role models who don’t smoke and think about them when you are tempted to smoke again. Also, develop a list of negative role models who smoke. This should be a list of people you don’t want to be like. Remind yourself of these people when you feel the desire to smoke.
For some people, the “cold turkey” approach is the only way to quit. However, if the gradual approach is for you, products such as the nicotine patch, nicotine gum, Zyban or Chantix all may help. These products are part of the $300 million nicotine-replacement market. Zyban users seem to beat the averages with about a 38-48 percent success rate. The patch has achieved about a 36 percent success rate. Other people have tried hypnosis, inhalers and nasal sprays with varying degrees of success. Attending a support group consisting of others who want to quit seems to help boost your success rate by about 40 percent. The 12-step method is another approach that helps people overcome a variety of addictions. It has proven marginally successful with smoking cessation.
Many schools and employers also have developed smoking cessation programs. Research has shown that smokers are less productive than their peers. Smokers take more work breaks and longer work breaks. They also miss more days from sickness. They are more expensive to insure. When employers began adding up the costs associated with workers who smoke, they and their health insurance carriers began discouraging the hiring of employees who smoke. In work and school settings, incentives and contracts often are employed to inspire smokers to quit. Parental involvement is critical in helping with prevention and cessation efforts among kids.
Users of smokeless tobacco have another avenue for help. All-mint pouches can help tobacco chewers quit their habits. The substance still is placed in the mouth like chewing tobacco, but is tobacco-free. This provides the oral fixation, while avoiding the dangers associated with tobacco.