You can still add a smoke-free day to your holiday wishlist for yourself
You’ve probably heard the term “nobody likes a quitter.” On Nov. 21 of every year, however, being a quitter makes you a winner.
The Great American Smokeout, a program hosted by the American Cancer Society, or ACS, has been encouraging smokers for more than 40 years to drop the habit for just one day. After one tobacco-free day, smokers can take the next step and kick the habit for good. Thousands of people participated in this year’s Great American Smokeout.
Think you missed your chance? Never fear; it’s the most wonderful time of the year … to make a resolution to take a step toward better health, for you and the loved ones you’ll be gathering with over the coming weeks.
Did you know?
According to the ACS, about 37.8 million Americans smoke cigarettes. About half of all Americans who keep smoking will die because of their smoking, the society reports. Each year more than 480,000 people in the United States die from illnesses caused by smoking. This means smoking causes about 1 out of 5 deaths in the United States each year.
Don’t feel bad if you’re having a tough time giving up the habit. Giving up cigarettes, cigars or hookahs is not easy. According to Medical News Today, nicotine is as difficult as giving up heroin. The Mayo Clinic explains nicotine dependence this way: “Nicotine produces physical and mood-altering effects in your brain that are temporarily pleasing. These effects make you want to use tobacco and lead to dependence.”
It can be a tough habit to break, but the ACS gives smokers tips on how to quit for just one day, which could lead to a smoke-free lifetime.
If you’ve decided to quit using tobacco – and that is a very personal decision – experts say you should set a date for quitting, make a plan and stick to that plan. Here are some tips:
- Pick the date and mark it on your calendar.
- Tell friends and family about your quit day.
- Get rid of all the cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car and at work.
- Stock up on oral substitutes – sugarless gum, carrot sticks, hard candy, cinnamon sticks, coffee stirrers, straws and/or toothpicks.
- Decide on a plan. Will you use nicotine replacement therapy (gum and patches) or other medicines? Will you attend a stop-smoking class? If so, sign up now.
- Practice saying, “No, thank you. I don’t smoke.”
- Set up a support system. This could be a group program or a friend or family member who has successfully quit and is willing to help you.
- Ask family and friends who still smoke not to smoke around you, and not to leave cigarettes out where you can see them.
- If you are using bupropion or varenicline, take your dose each day leading up to your quit day.
- Think about your past attempts to quit. Try to figure out what worked and what didn’t.
You’re not alone
Although kicking the smoking habit is hard, it’s not impossible. According to a recent Healthline article, 40% of former smokers who succeeded in quitting attributed their success to having a support system in place. On top of friends or family, here are some additional resources you could consider:
- The Michigan Tobacco Quitline at (800) QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669). During the first call, a trained coach will talk to you about what you feel you need to help you quit. You can get self-help materials, a list of quit smoking programs in your area, or you may be able to register for a free telephone-coaching program.
- The Great American Smokeout at cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/great-american-smokeout.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/index.html
- Partnership for Prescription Assistance program has a directory of drug company programs that will help with the cost of prescriptions. Call (800) 477-2669 or visit Partnership for Prescription Assistance at aafp.org/about/initiatives/prescription-assistance.html.
- Connection to Care can help you get low-cost or free Chantix, Nicotrol Inhaler, and/or Nicotrol Nasal Spray. To apply, fill out a short form and have your doctor sign it. Call (866) 776-3700 or visit Pfizer RxPathways at pfizerrxpathways.com.
- Bridges to Access can help you get Zyban or Buproprion SR. To apply, fill out a short form and then ask your doctor to sign and submit it for you. Call (866) 728-4368 or visit Bridges to Access at rxresource.org/prescription-assistance/bridges-to-access.html.