The benefits of quitting smoking are undeniable. A mere 20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure drops. Stopping the habit can be a challenge but your health and lifestyle will reap the rewards.
This is the reason why Rush University Medical Center became a tobacco-free campus on November 20, 2008, the national celebration day of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout.
"There's not one way to quit. I encourage patients to select a meaningful date to quit like their birthday and to decide on a plan," says Jeffrey Nekomoto, DO, MPH, an internist at Rush. "For some, quitting cold turkey is the best way. For others, nicotine patches and gum will help manage their cravings. Medications like Chantix can also help with stemming the desire to smoke."
When you are ready to quit:
- Let everyone know. Inform your family, friends and co-workers that you are giving up the habit. Ask fellow smokers to quit with you. "I find that couples that quit together have a great success rate. It's very important to be surrounded by supportive people," Nekomoto says.
- Start to smoke less. If you need to start slowly, begin by smoking only half the cigarette or extending the time between smoke breaks.
- Keep temptation away. Throw away any remaining packs, lighters and ashtrays. Avoid activities that will entice you to smoke such as drinking alcohol and hanging out with friends who are smokers.
- Learn from your mistakes. If you've attempted to stop smoking before, think about what went wrong and what you could do differently this time.
- Be patient with yourself. Focus on your progress. Each day without smoking brings you closer to your goal.
- Choose a healthy distraction. When a craving hits, chew sugarless gum or snack on carrot sticks or air-popped popcorn. Call a friend or take a walk. Cravings usually pass within a few minutes.
- If needed, rely on medications or nicotine replacement therapy. In collaboration with your doctor, use whichever method works best for you.
- Find a support group. Ask your doctor for a referral to a local smoking cessation program or use a telephone-based program. Toll-free tobacco quit lines are available in every state. See resources below.
- Remind yourself of the benefits of not smoking. It can be easy to forget while you're quitting, but you will be healthier, happier and have extra money in your pocket once cigarettes are out of your life.
- Reward yourself. Go to the movies, get a massage or splurge on something with the money you've saved from not buying cigarettes.
If you need assistance, consider using these resources for additional support:
More Information at Your Fingertips:
- Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (7874)
Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.
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