October 11, 2017
There are a number of prescription and over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies that can help greatly when stopping the use of tobacco. But quitting typically takes more than that. It requires a change in your lifestyle. It can be done! Here are four things you can do to get on the path to reducing your risks of lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
1. Prepare before you quit smoking.
Preparation is the key to success in any new endeavor. Decide on a specific date to quit smoking, make a plan, and then stick to it. Don’t try to pick a date if you’re in the middle of a major life change such as starting a new job or the death of a loved one. You may end up reverting back to your smoking habit quickly which can be discouraging.
In the days leading up to your quit date,
- think about what your motivations are for quitting; write them down and place them somewhere you will see frequently i.e. on the refrigerator, or a bathroom mirror.
- decide what your plan to quit is going to be. Are you going to use nicotine replacement therapy, prescription drugs, or quit cold-turkey?
- have a support team. Stop-smoking programs, telephone quitlines, Nicotine Anonymous meetings, self-help materials such as books and pamphlets, and smoking counselors can be a great help. Also, tell your friends and family that you’re quitting. They can help hold you accountable, which increases your chances of quitting for good.
- prepare your environment by doing some deep cleaning. Get rid of the smell of cigarette smoke and decrease temptation. Clean out your car and home of any cigarettes or lighters. Vacuum and steam clean the seats and carpet in your car, and any other fabric inside your home including carpets, rugs, and couches. Wash your window coverings and anything else that may have absorbed the smell of tobacco. Wipe down appliances with white distilled vinegar. There are also many products on the market used specifically for eliminating cigarette or cigar smoke odor that can be found in local hardware stores, like spray cleaners and air purifiers.
2. Avoid Triggers.
It’s important to stay away from activities, behaviors, people, or places that you link to smoking. Spend more time in public areas that don’t allow smoking. Visit your local library, theater, indoor mall, or anywhere else where you won’t run into someone else smoking.
If you find that you want to smoke the most while you are drinking alcohol or coffee, avoid these and any other drinks you associate with smoking for several months. Try something new instead, maybe carbonated water or a low-calorie sports drink.
3. Take it one minute at a time.
Quitting any habit is tough. The important thing to remember is why you decided to quit smoking and remind yourself of the positive outcomes you’d like to see. Most people who decide to quit tobacco do so to improve their health and reduce their risk of getting lung cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, you can experience these benefits after quitting:
- After just 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure begin to drop
- After 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level (the colorless, odorless toxic gas tobacco smoke produces) in your blood drops to normal
- After 2-3 weeks, your risk of heart attack decreases
- After 5 years, your risk of mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder cancers are cut in half.
You’ll notice some other immediate benefits after quitting, like food tasting better, no more yellowing in your teeth and fingernails, and better lung function. Keeping these health reasons at the forefront of your mind and paying attention to how these benefits add up can really help you stay focused on your goal.
4. Reward yourself.
Decide on how to reward yourself each time you get through a set amount of time without smoking. The health benefits alone may be reward enough for some, but for an extra motivational push, why not treat yourself for your hard work?
- Keep track of the money you were previously spending on cigarettes and watch your bank account grow!
- Use the money to go out to a nice lunch or dinner in a smoke-free environment
- Pamper yourself by relaxing with a massage instead of relaxing with a cigarette
- Join a gym with the money saved from not buying cigarettes and take care of your body, now that your heart and lungs are healthier
If quitting smoking seems overwhelming or impossible, research ways other people were successful in quitting. You’ll find that it is entirely possible to live a healthy, smoke-free life.
Arizona Oncology’s cancer specialists are available in over 30 locations across Arizona including Scottsdale, Glendale, Deer Valley, and Chandler, and in Southern Arizona including Tucson, Green Valley, Safford, and Nogales.