Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Make 2011 Your Year to Quit SMOKING

2011: Your Year to Quit Smoking

As the New Year begins, determine to make 2011 the year that you quit smoking. Resources are available to help you quit for good this year.

Make 2011 Your Year to Quit

Quitting smoking is among the most common New Year's resolutions. The New Year is a symbol of renewal and can be a time to prepare for new beginnings. It is a time to set goals and make them public so that you can get support and encouragement from friends and family. If you are a smoker, determining to quit in 2011 may be the most important resolution you ever make.

Nicotine is the drug in tobacco products that makes them addictive. In fact, nicotine dependence is the most common form of addiction in the United States. Research suggests that nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol. Smokers want to smoke because their bodies rely on nicotine. When the amount of nicotine in the body runs low, smokers experience a craving—a strong, almost uncontrollable urge to smoke.
Quitting smoking can be challenging and may require multiple attempts. People sometimes relapse because of stress and withdrawal symptoms (e.g., irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating). But you can quit. For some smokers, quitting is not as hard as they expected. For others, it is a major battle. But the bottom line is that more than 40 million smokers have successfully quit. In fact, today there are more former smokers than smokers.

Make 2011 your year to quit.

The Most Important New Year's Resolution You May Ever Make

Breaking free from nicotine dependence is not the only reason to quit smoking. Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals and chemical compounds, many of which are toxic or carcinogenic (i.e., cause cancer). Cigarette smoke can cause serious health problems, even death.  Fortunately, people who stop smoking can greatly reduce their risk for disease and premature death. And the younger you are when you quit, the better your chance for avoiding these problems. So don't wait!

Quitting smoking:

•lowers the risk for lung and other types of cancer.
•reduces the risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.
•reduces respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
•reduces the risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
•reduces the risk for infertility among women during their reproductive years. Women who stop smoking during pregnancy also reduce their risk of having a low birth weight baby.

If you quit smoking, you will also help protect your children, family, and friends from exposure to secondhand smoke that can cause immediate harm to the nonsmokers who breathe it.

•Harm to Adults

When others are exposed to secondhand smoke from your cigarettes, platelets in their blood get sticky and may form clots, just like in a person who smokes. This exposure increases their risk for heart attack and death. Secondhand smoke can also cause lung cancer.

•Harm to Children

If babies and children are exposed to secondhand smoke from your cigarettes, they may suffer from bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear infections. Exposure may make them wheeze and cough more often. If they have asthma, breathing in secondhand smoke from cigarettes can trigger an attack that may be severe enough to send them to the hospital. Secondhand smoke also causes sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

There is no safe amount of secondhand exposure. Breathing even a little secondhand smoke can be dangerous. Quitting smoking will improve your health and protect others from exposure to secondhand smoke.

How to Quit

You can quit in 2011.

The most important thing is to try! Although no single approach works best for everyone, many effective quit methods are available. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about quitting, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW, or visit for more information and support.

You can get ready by setting a quit date in the next few days or weeks, and changing your environment (e.g., get rid of ALL cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car, and place of work and don't let people smoke in your presence). Also, think about your past attempts to quit. Think about what worked and what did not. And once you quit, don't smoke—NOT EVEN A PUFF!

Get support and encouragement. Studies have shown that you have a better chance of being successful if you have help. You can get support in many ways. For example, tell your family, friends, and coworkers that you are going to quit and want their support. Ask them not to smoke around you or leave cigarettes out where you can see them.

Talk to your health care provider (e.g., doctor, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, psychologist, or smoking cessation coach or counselor). Get individual, group, or telephone counseling. Counseling doubles your chances of success. The more help you have, the better your chances are of quitting. Counseling can help you identify and overcome situations that trigger the urge to smoke. Free programs are available at local hospitals and health centers. Call your local health department for information about programs in your area. Telephone counseling is also available free of charge across the United States at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

Learn new skills and behaviors. Try to distract yourself from urges to smoke. Talk to someone, go for a walk, or get busy with a task. When you first try to quit, change your routine. Use a different route to work. Drink tea instead of coffee. Eat breakfast in a different place. Do something to reduce your stress. Take a hot bath, exercise, or read a book. Plan something enjoyable to do every day. Drink a lot of water and other fluids.

Talk to your doctor about medication. Medications can help you stop smoking and lessen the urge to smoke.

•Over-the-counter "nicotine replacement therapies," or NRTs, can help. These are medications that contain nicotine to help reduce your cravings and withdrawal symptoms so you can focus on changing the behavior and habits that trigger your urge to smoke. NRTs available without a doctor's prescription include nicotine lozenges, nicotine gum, and nicotine patches.

•You can also get a prescription from your doctor for NRTS such as nicotine inhalers and nasal sprays that act much like the over-the-counter NRTs.

•Other prescription medications like bupropion SR and varenicline tartrate do not contain nicotine and work in different ways to help reduce your urge to smoke. These medications are FDA-approved and proven to be effective in helping smokers to quit. Talk to your doctor or health care provider.

Counseling can be combined with over-the-counter or prescription medications. Counseling and medication are effective when used by themselves for treating tobacco dependence. However, the combination of counseling and medication is more effective than either alone.

Regardless of how you decide to quit, whether you use medicines, counseling, or simply stopping smoking now, the most important thing is to try and stick to it.

Support to Quit

For support to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669; TTY 1-800-332-8615). You can get free support and advice from experienced counselors, a personalized quit plan, self-help materials, the latest information about cessation medications, and more.

Online cessation services and resources are also available through the following Web sites:

• provides free, accurate, evidence-based information and professional assistance to help support the immediate and long-term needs of people trying to quit smoking. provides free, accurate, evidence-based information and professional assistance to help support the immediate and long-term needs of women trying to quit smoking.

•Quit Tobacco: Make Everyone Proud is a U.S. Department of Defense-sponsored Web site for military personnel and their families.

For More Information

•Help for Smokers and Other Tobacco Users: Quit Smoking

(Easy-to-read guide issued by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)

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