6 Steps to Quit Smoking
Cigarette smoking causes a great many health problems, so it’s no surprise to learn that researchers also link tobacco use to the development of type 2 diabetes. While cigarette smoke is most commonly associated with lung damage, it actually affects nearly every part of your body, diminishing your overall quality of life, increasing your risk of early death, and potentially damaging the health of those who live with you and breathe in second-hand smoke. Smoking specifically increases the risk of developing serious complications of diabetes, such as eye disease, nerve damage, restricted blood flow, heart disease and kidney disease.
It’s Never Too Late to Kick the Habit
The longer you smoke, the more damage you do to your body. Quitting by age 40 reduces your chances of early death by up to 90 percent but, according to the American Cancer Society, quitting at any age improves your health and reduces your risk of dying before your time. From hypnosis and acupuncture, to phone apps and medication, there are many resources available to help those who want to help themselves. But some smoking cessation tools are more successful than others, and it may take several attempts before you find the method or combination of methods that works best for you.
Six Steps for Smoking Cessation Success
Quitting smoking is a process that begins with a huge commitment to yourself. Here are six important steps you can take right now to help get the process going.
- Look over the many quit options available to help you create a plan that will work best for you. Remember that switching to lower-tar brands and cutting down on the number of cigarettes you smoke are strictly short-term, intermediate steps. Tapering down is not the same as quitting!
- Gather your resources. Find friends and family members who are willing to support you (perhaps first and foremost by not smoking in your presence) and collect self-help material to use to support yourself along the way. No single method or tool is likely to help you quit “cold turkey,” so it is important to be armed with as much support as you can amass.
- Recognize your cues. For instance, if you normally have a cigarette first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee at your kitchen counter, or right after you eat breakfast, come up with a way to change your morning routine to avoid these cues. You may have to avoid certain social situations for a while, such as meeting friends and coworkers at a bar for drinks, until you can do so without lighting up.
- Prepare for withdrawal. Side effects and symptoms are temporary but may linger for months. Stress, boredom, irritability and physical issues such as headaches, insomnia, and increased appetite, are all common withdrawal symptoms. Thinking ahead can help you cope. Sign up for meditation or yoga classes for relaxation and focusing techniques, plan to do more exercise, and start working on a healthy diet plan that includes drinking plenty of water or other low-cal fluids and incorporating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- Check out SmokeFree.gov. This website offers free, accurate, evidence-based information and professional assistance designed to support both the immediate and long-term needs of people trying to quit smoking. Among the many helpful tools provided on this government-supported site, is the 1-800-QUIT-NOW hotline number you can call to speak with a counselor for ongoing support and advice while you’re in the process of quitting or even if you’re just thinking about it.
- Speak with your healthcare provider about medical approaches to quitting smoking. Although nicotine replacement therapy in the form of patches, gum and lozenges are available without a prescription, and can help you cope with withdrawal symptoms and cravings, a medical professional can help you decide which is best for you and offer alternatives. This is especially important if you are pregnant, have a serious medical condition, currently use other medications or are under 18 years old and unable to purchase over-the-counter aids.