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Make 2018 the Year You Keep Your Resolution to Quit Smoking

January 03, 2018

It’s estimated that more than 160 million Americans make at least one New Year’s resolution. Usually, these resolutions involve improving some aspect of life, like improving relationships with loved ones, finding a new job or losing a few pounds. One of the most common resolutions, however, is to finally quit smoking.

If you’re a smoker, there’s a good chance that you’ve tried to quit or cut back on cigarettes and you know that it can be challenging. It takes a large amount of willpower because it involves both a chemical addiction, to nicotine, as well as an emotional crutch and deeply ingrained habit.

The good news is that there are millions of former smokers who have successfully quit. That means you have plenty of reasons to be positive even though you know it’s not easy. When you start down this path, it’s important to realize that you may not be successful on the first try, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. Statistically, it takes a smoker between six and eleven attempts before they are able to quit for good.

Most smokers who vow to quit in the new year, about 75 percent, make it through the first week without breaking their resolution, but the success rate tends to drop off as it gets later in the month. So be mentally prepared for what you’ll do if you slip up in a weak moment. Remember that you might have to re-learn how to live life without using cigarettes as a crutch, in addition to breaking the physical addiction.

The most effective first step is to make sure you have a plan and that you follow it. You can get started by:

  • Talking to your doctor. He or she will be thrilled to know you’re quitting and can offer advice and resources on how to be successful, including several prescription medications.
  • Asking for support. Whether it’s formal counseling or a group of friends or family members, tell people what you’re doing and ask them to be there for you to talk to and lean on.
  • Remembering past attempts. If you’ve tried to quit in the past, what prompted you to start again? Was it stress at work? Was it alcohol? Was it social pressure? This will help you be prepared to avoid those triggers.
  • Changing your routine. Eat something different for breakfast or take a new route to work and listen to a different radio station in the car. Break your routine to avoid your triggers.
  • Asking others to not smoke around you. The smell of cigarette smoke will be a strong, possibly overwhelming, temptation. Ask people for their support while you are attempting to improve your life.

However you decide to quit, just don’t wait any longer.

According to the American Cancer Society, quitting smoking has an almost immediate positive effect on your body. From the moment you quit that last cigarette…

  • Your heart rate and blood pressure drop in 20 minutes.
  • The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal in 12 hours.
  • Circulation and lung function improve within three months.
  • Your risk for coronary heart disease decreases by half in the first year.
  • The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder is cut in half within five years.
  • The risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half after 10 years.
  • The risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a non-smoker’s after 15 years.

So make 2018 the last New Year’s Day that you resolve to quit smoking. You’ll notice how much better you feel the longer you stay smoke-free, which will truly make it a Happy New Year!

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