Forty-six million Americans have quit smoking for good! Ready to join them? Keep watching! Smoking is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths in America, killing 400,000 people every year. But here's the good news: Your body starts to feel the positive effects of quitting just 20 minutes after you do it! Because smoking is both physically and psychologically addicting, it's a hard habit to breakbut having a plan can help. Once you've made the decision to quit, it helps to prepare yourself by understanding your personal addiction. Try keeping a smoking journal for a few days, recording every cigarette you smoke, how you felt and why you did it. Most smokers notice a pattern to their habit. By becoming aware of when you're likely to smoke, you can plan to change your environment to avoid or weaken the temptation. After you've identified your triggers, you're probably ready to take the plunge. Start by setting a quitting date and stick to it. Be sure that your environment is welcoming to a non-smoker by that date. Discard all cigarettes, ashtrays, and lighters in your home, car and office. As you prepare to give up smoking, remember that you probably didn't start on your ownand you don't have to quit on your own, either! Enlist the aid of family and friends. Request that fellow smokers not offer you cigarettes, and that they not smoke around you. Do not let anyone smoke in your home. And remember that smoking journal? Get it out, read it over, and prepare to come up with new behaviors to adjust your routine and avoid your triggers. For example, if you're used to smoking after a meal, come up with a new ritual, such as taking a walk or brushing your teeth. Avoid places where you used to smoke, like bars and parks. This could be a great opportunity to find a new favorite place to spend time! Be prepared for urges and have cigarette substitutes on hand. Sugar-free candy, gum, breath mints, and even toothpicks, can keep your mouth busy and help you fight the urge to smoke. While you're quitting, it can help to enlist the aid of medication, such as nicotine gum, a nicotine inhaler, or a nicotine patch. Many cessation aids are available over-the-counter, but you should still talk to your doctor about what's right for you. These medications can more than double your chances of quitting for good, but you must use them correctly: It is vitally important NOT to smoke while you're using nicotine substitutes. As you quit, it's important to be prepared for the possibility that you may relapse, and that's okay. Most people try to quit smoking several times before they succeed. Just take note of why you gave in-was it a cocktail, other smokers, a bad day?-and try to remember that this trigger was too much for you. Quitting a longtime smoking habit can be incredibly difficult, but the lifelong benefits of doing so are worth the effort. Talk to your doctor about devising a smoking cessation plan that will work for you.
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Last Updated:December 20, 2012