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The Great American Smokeout: A Day to Quit for Good (Health)

Breaking the habit of tobacco use is no easy task. If it were, there wouldn’t be approximately 40 million individuals who smoke cigarettes in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Quitting may be easier said than done, but thousands have overcome addiction to nicotine products and made a vital step towards better health. Amazing things happen to your body when you decide to quit smoking, and benefits begin just twenty minutes after stopping – your circulation starts to improve, and your blood pressure and heart rate decrease. After just four days, your lungs start to function more efficiently, and breathing is much easier. Fast forward to one tobacco-free year, and your risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke decreases by 50% when compared to those still using tobacco products.

In honor of The Great American Smokeout, an initiative spearheaded by the American Cancer Society (ACS) to help individuals triumph over tobacco, South County Physical Therapy, Inc. (SCPT) has compiled suggestions for successfully quitting.

To overcome the physical and mental addiction to tobacco, consider making a game plan first. Determine a specific day you’d like to quit, and stick to it. If you choose The Great American Smokeout on November 17th, you’ll know that many others with the same struggle are right there with you on the journey to living a tobacco-free life. Let family and friends know your plans, so they can cheer you on and abstain from smoking near you. There are many different ways to quit smoking. To determine what approach is right for you, talk to your doctor about your plans to quit. Your health care provider might recommend certain medications to help reduce the urge to smoke or provide you with information on local support groups. Approaches to quitting aren’t one-size-fits-all. Try a plan that makes the most sense for you or that you find most encouraging.

Just before your quit day, remove all tobacco products from your home, including cigarettes, lighters, and ashtrays. Consider changing your routine to avoid situations where you regularly smoke a cigarette. Altering your day-to-day plans might mean abstaining from meeting friends outside of work, or taking your coffee to-go instead of drinking it on the porch with a cigarette. Habits are hard to break; that’s why it’s important to change or modify the ones that typically incorporate tobacco use. The American Cancer Society suggests keeping oral substitutes like veggie sticks, hard candy, sugarless gum, and coffee stirrers. When you feel a strong urge to smoke, ACS recommends using the 4 D approach:

  • Delay for ten minutes
  • Take several *D*eep breaths
  • Drink water slowly
  • Do something else, like take a walk

On behalf of the SCPT team, we hope this information is helpful as you take the important first step towards quitting. Congratulations on reaping the very best reward of all—a lifetime of better health. For more information, read the American Cancer Society’s “Guide to Quitting Smoking.”