There are so many risks of smoking, some of which we may be more aware of than others.
There are health risks such as an increased risk of cancer and heart attack. Smoking can even put you at greater risk of complications if you contract a respiratory disease like COVID-19. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in America.
There are logistical considerations as well. For example, the U.S. Fire Administration found the leading cause of residential fires that kill older adults is smoking.
The U.S. Surgeon General says the older adult population is the highest fire risk group already, and the risk of being injured or dying because of a fire goes up with age.
Even with a true understanding of the risks, nicotine is a highly addictive substance that can be extremely challenging to quit.
So what can you do to quit, even if you’ve tried and failed in the past?
The following are some tips and things to know if you’d like now to be the time you finally stop smoking.
Talk To Your Doctor About Medication
There have been quite a few smoking cessation medications to hit the market in recent years, so speak with your doctor to determine if any of these could work for you.
Over-the-counter medicines that you might take include nicotine gum and patches, as well as nicotine lozenges.
Prescription smoking cessation medicines include nicotine inhalers and nasal sprays.
Zyban is an antidepressant approved as a prescription to help with smoking cessation. There’s also a medicine called Chantix, which blocks nicotine’s effects in the brain.
Electronic cigarettes aren’t an approved way to quit smoking according to the FDA, and there is some controversy surrounding vaping, primarily because of teen and young adult use of these devices.
If you are a smoker who wants to quit, however, electronic cigarettes may help you.
It’s important to realize that while using e-cigarettes or vaping products can help you stop using cigarettes, there are still risks of using these devices, and they do contain nicotine. If you can quit by following other methods, that may be preferable.
Follow the START Approach
When you’re deciding on a plan to quit smoking, you need to think about your unique needs and habits.
As you’re deciding on an approach, ask yourself how much you smoke and whether or not there are certain triggers including people, places, and things that you associate with smoking. Also, try to think about how your mood at any given time might play a role in your smoking. For example, if you’re stressed out, do you tend to smoke more?
The START Plan first requires picking a quit date within the next two weeks.
T stands for telling your family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit which helps you stay accountable and allow them to become a support system.
The A in START stands for anticipating the challenges you’ll face and planning for them.
R stands for removing tobacco products and cigarettes from your home, your work, and your car. You should also wash and deep clean anything that smells like smoke.
Finally, T is for talking to your doctor about ways to quit. For example, you might consider one of the medications listed above.
Use An App
Pretty much anything you want to accomplish these days, there’s an app that can help. Quitting smoking is no exception.
Some of the apps that may help you stop smoking include:
- MyQuit Coach: With this app, which is free but has in-app purchases, you get a personalized plan to help you stop smoking. It’s a physician-approved app, and you can pick the approach that you think is best suited to your needs. For example, that can mean you choose a plan that has you quit cold turkey, or maybe one where you gradually reduce your nicotine intake.
- Cessation Nation: This app is a way to deal with cravings. If you’re feeling a craving coming on, pull up the app and it will provide you with a distraction such as a game or your stats on how long it’s been since you quit smoking.
- QuitNow!: This app is broken into different sections, including areas to help you stay motivated and a community so you can share your thoughts and ask questions.
- Smoke-Free: The Smoke-Free app uses science and research and offers evidence-based techniques to help you stop smoking for the long-term. You can journal your cravings and find tips for managing them, and you can also track your progress via graphs.
- EasyQuit: This smoking cessation app is focused primarily on the benefits to your health that quitting can have. For example, you can use the app to see how your oxygen levels improve, your senses including taste and smell, and the improvements in your blood circulation. You can also earn badges for your achievements.
See a Counselor
Another approach to quitting that can be used on its own or combined with some of the tips above is to see a counselor.
You can see a counselor in-person or virtually.
In-person counseling can come from a doctor, pharmacist, or nurse practitioner in some cases.
There are also telephone quitlines available in all 50 states. If you call one of these quitlines that are state-based, you receive free counseling.
You might also join an online or in-person support group.
Finally, don’t keep it a secret that you’re trying to quit. You should bring your loved ones into the process because first and foremost when they know what your goals are they can help you stay on track.
They can also provide you with emotional support, which an important part of quitting.
Sometimes we don’t see cigarette addiction in the same way we do drug addiction, but it is the same in most ways.
You need to work hard to quit and try different methods to find what works for you.