CHARLESTON, W.Va. –This holiday season, countless West Virginia citizens will make the New Year’s resolution to quit smoking in 2012. While quitting smoking is extremely difficult—six out of 10 smokers require multiple quit attempts to stop smoking—preparing a quit-smoking plan can greatly improve a person's chance for success. The following are proven tips and resources from the American Lung Association that have helped thousands of people give up smoking for good:
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the various types of treatments and different over-the-counter and prescription medications that are available to help you quit smoking.
Look into the different options available to help smokers quit. Visit www.lung.org/stop-smoking or call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) for suggestions.
Take time to plan. Pick your quit date a few weeks ahead of time and mark it on the calendar. If you can, pick a day when life's extra stresses are not at their peak, such as after the holidays. Mark a day on the calendar and stick to it. As your quit day approaches, gather the medications and tools you need and map out how you are going to handle the situations that make you want to smoke.
Get some exercise every day. Walking is a great way to reduce the stress of quitting. Exercise is proven to not only combat weight gain but also to improve mood and energy levels.
Eat a balanced diet, drink lots of water and get plenty of sleep.
Ask family, friends and co-workers for their help and support. Having someone to take a walk with or just listen can give a needed boost.
You don't have to quit alone. Help is available online and in your community. Consider joining a stop-smoking program like Freedom From Smoking® (www.ffsonline.org) from the American Lung Association.
“Quitting smoking is the biggest step a smoker can take to improve their health and wellness,” said Deb Brown, president and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic. “The New Year is a perfect time for smokers in West Virginia to implement a plan to quit smoking and welcome the health and financial benefits of a smoke-free lifestyle.”
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, the benefits of quitting smoking are immediate:
20 minutes after quitting – heart rate and blood pressure drop.
12 hours after quitting – The carbon monoxide level in a person’s blood drops to normal.
2 weeks – 3 months after quitting – Circulation improves and lung function increases.
1 – 9 months after quitting – Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) start to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs and reduce the risk of infection.
1 year after quitting – The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s.
5 years after quitting – Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder are cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2 – 5 years.
10 years after quitting – The risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking and the risk of cancer of the larynx and pancreas decreases.
15 years after quitting – The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.
“I’ve been smoke-free since 1999,” says Jacki Blankenship of Grantsville, W. Va. “I saw my parents’ lives become threatened by their cigarette smoking and that motivated me to quit smoking.” Jacki, who had previously quit smoking in 1987, but resumed in 1997, decided to see a doctor and use the nicotine patch on her last attempt to stop smoking. “Since I’ve quit smoking, I feel better.”
Helping Americans quit smoking remains a public health priority for the American Lung Association. Its Freedom From Smoking® group clinic program—which began in 1981 and includes a comprehensive variety of evidence-based cessation techniques—has helped hundreds of thousands of smokers quit. The American Lung Association more recently introduced Freedom From Smoking® Online, a highly successful, self-paced online adaptation of the group clinic that is available 24 hours a day.
For more information on smoking cessation, individuals should contact the American Lung Association in West Virginia at (304) 342-6600 or visit www.lunginfo.org.
“Smokers don’t have to go through the process of quitting smoking alone,” said Brown. “Research shows that people who develop a support system and use programs like Freedom From Smoking® have a greater success in their quit smoking efforts, especially those who try to quit ‘cold turkey.’”