New Year’s resolutions: Tips on how to quit smoking
The new year is fast approaching, and with nearly 70 percent of adult smokers wanting to kick the habit, many people are likely to make the resolution to give up cigarettes for good in 2014.
That's great — tobacco is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States and over half of smokers reaching middle age will die of a smoking-related illness. Further, it’s never too late to quit. Quitting smoking is beneficial at any age, and smokers who quit before age 35 have mortality rates similar to people who never smoked, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But quitting is easier said than done. Many smokers try to quit multiple times before succeeding, and less than 5 percent are able to quit cold turkey.
That's not to say quitting is impossible. Just ask Brian Tiep, M.D., director of pulmonary rehabilitation and smoking cessation at City of Hope, and Rachel Dunham, M.S.N., nurse practitioner for smoking cessation and lung cancer screening.
Here Tiep and Dunham offer some tips on how to stop smoking permanently:
- Seek help. The first step is to seek medical help. Talk to your doctor about finding a smoking cessation program with medical professionals that specialize in helping people quit smoking.
- Commit. Make a commitment to yourself to keep your doctor appointments, Dunham said. Don't miss appointments because you started smoking again — it is especially important at this time because you need help and support.
- Be passionate. “It is important to be passionate about your goal,” Tiep said. Quitting is something that should occupy your mind. Stay focused to your commitment to quitting for yourself and your family as well.
- Medicate. “Taking the appropriate medications is an extremely important tool when trying to quit smoking,” Tiep said. Medications such as nicotine replacement, Zyban and Chantix help manage withdrawal symptoms, which can be very painful, both emotionally and physically.
- Expect relapse. Kicking the habit is hard. And it may take multiple tries to finally quit for good. In fact, most people who have successfully quit tried many times before achieving success, Tiep said. So don’t be too hard on yourself when you find yourself relapsing; instead, remind yourself that each try brings you one one step closer to achieving your goal. Be patient, but persistent.
- Be patient. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and quitting doesn't happen in a day either. Most smokers have years of smoking under their belts before they quit, Dunham said. Expect a slow and steady progress. It takes time and effort to quit smoking for good.
For more information on City of Hope’s support groups and educational services, click here.
Looking for a support group to help you quit smoking?
Rachel Dunham, M.S.N., nurse practitioner for smoking cessation and lung cancer screening, runs a support group that meets on Mondays at 3 p.m. in the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center at City of Hope. For more information, call 626-256-4673, ext. 32375.