A popular saying says that quitters never win, but in the case of smoking, quitting is a win. If you are a smoker, the sooner you quit, the better. For smokers, quitting is the most difficult part of getting healthy, but it is crucial to becoming a #HealthyNewYou.
With the right amount of motivation and support, you can kick the habit. Keep these things in mind when you’re ready to quit smoking.
Let Health Be Your Motivator
In order to be the healthiest you can be, you need to quit smoking. Since most of the negative health effects of smoking don’t affect us until later on in life, it’s not usually top-of-mind among smokers. It should be, though. If you could ask long-time smokers who now suffer from lung disease, cancer, or other health problems if they wished they had given up smoking earlier on, many of them would probably say “yes.”
Tobacco smoke isn’t the only problem with cigarettes, either. There are other lesser-known problems that can affect your health down the road. Did you know these facts?
If you quit smoking, you can reduce your risk of osteoporosis.
You’re probably aware that smoking contributes to lung disease and cancer, among other diseases, but are you aware that smoking also contributes to osteoporosis and weak bones? Tobacco smoke can cause several health conditions, but the nicotine in cigarettes is what contributes to weakened bone. It can take a long time for bone to rebuild itself, so the sooner you quit, the better. Also, if you have had a spinal fusion or may need one in the future, smoking may make the surgery unsuccessful because it weakens bone.
E-cigarettes aren’t necessarily a better option.
While e-cigarettes are smoke-free and tobacco-free, they are not nicotine-free. Tobacco smoke causes the more well-known smoking-related problems, like lung disease and cancer, but as we discussed above, nicotine is the substance that weakens your bones. It’s also the substance that keeps you addicted. Liquid nicotine, which is used in e-cigarettes, can be harmful when inhaled and possibly lethal if ingested or absorbed through the skin. While you may avoid the negative effects of tobacco smoke by switching to e-cigarettes, you are still putting yourself at risk of health problems.
Break the Habit
Smoking is an addiction. It is difficult to keep yourself motivated. Sometimes the things you do in everyday life may trigger a craving. Smoking becomes part of your day. For example, many people have a cigarette with their morning coffee or after a meal. During those times, smokers may crave cigarettes because it’s part of their normal routine. Sometimes changing up your routine a bit can help you avoid cravings. Try some new activities. Start exercising. Replace the after-meal cigarette with a piece of fruit or a stick of gum. Cravings are intense, but usually don’t last more than a few minutes, so if you can keep yourself busy until the craving is over, it will be easier to resist smoking a cigarette.
Remember: Everyone is different.
Different methods of quitting work for different people. Some people can quit cold turkey. Others need to quit gradually by cutting down the number of cigarettes they are smoking or nicotine replacement therapy. Don’t get discouraged if something that worked for someone else doesn’t work for you. Relapses and slips are common; if it happens, just rededicate yourself to quitting and try do better moving forward. Try to identify what made you relapse in the first place so that you can try to avoid those situations in the future.
You don’t have to go it alone, either. If you can get the support to keep you going, whether through friends and families or outside support groups, you’re more likely to stick to a cigarette-free life. Organizations like SmokeFree.gov have great free resources to help you along in your mission to quit, like quit plans, tips, and text message services.
Have you started the process of giving up cigarettes, or have you already quit smoking? Let me know what you did to kick the habit. Tweet me @GleiberMD with the hashtag #HealthyNewYou.