By Lisa Wade Raasch
“Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it at least a hundred times.”
The truth is, quitting smoking, like losing weight, can be tough.
It’s doable. And, it’s important.
But, if it was easy, then more than 45 million Americans wouldn’t be addicted to tobacco today, and of the half of those who tried to quit last year, more than one in 10 would have succeeded.
Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. Kicking this habit is the most important step a tobacco user can take to improve the length and quality of his or her life.
When I was a kid, my mom was one of those people who, after smoking for more than a decade, was able to put the pack down and quit cold turkey. She hasn’t had a cigarette since.
However, that approach doesn’t work for everyone. Some people attempt quitting multiple times before they hit on the approach and motivation that works for them.
Those first two days, or the first two weeks, after quitting can be a real challenge until new habits are formed. And even then, staying quit for the long-haul takes grit.
The good news is that help is available to make it easier to plan to quit, quit, and stay quit.
This Thursday, Muskogee Against Tobacco will celebrate the 37th annual Great American Smokeout from 4 – 7 p.m. near the food court at Arrowhead Mall and from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. in the lobby of the Muskogee County Health Department.
MAT will give away free Quit Kits, encourage tobacco users to call the Oklahoma QuitLine, where free medications and nicotine replacement patches, gums or lozenges may be available and Quit Coaches are a phone call away 24 hours a day.
To increase your chances of quitting for good, consider these proven tips:
• Make a Plan. If you’ve “quit a hundred times” before, learn from those experiences to build a better plan to quit for good now. The Oklahoma QuitLine will help you create a quit plan that addresses your unique tobacco habits and commit to a day and approach for becoming an ex-tobacco user.
• Get support. Many free resources are available to offer you the personal support you may need to boot the butts for good. You can connect with a free Quit Coach courtesy of 1-800-QUITNOW, get text support from SmokefreeTXT or join an online forum like the online Ex Community at community.becomeanex.org.
With around-the-clock support available, you can reach out and reduce the immediate urge to smoke or dip. Or, recruit your own support group at work, church or among family and friends to encourage your success.
• Develop healthy alternatives. Replace one unhealthy habit with a healthier one. When the urge strikes to light up or dip, drink a glass of water instead. Replace smoke breaks with a quick walk or even deep breathing exercises. Find a healthy way to shift your attention and allow the cravings to pass.
• Recognize and deal with your triggers. Smoking, like stress eating, often comes on the heels of a particular trigger. If you can identify the trigger and find a proactive way to deal with it, then you can more easily maintain your willpower. This is one reason that people choosing to quit tobacco on vacation are often more successful; the regular triggers are often not there.
• Have a positive attitude. While the chemicals in tobacco products work to trick our brains to work against us when we try to quit, that’s no more powerful than our own positive attitude. Engage your brain to work for you. You CAN do this. Believe it. You can be one of the two million people who successfully kick the habit this year.
• Don’t let tobacco rob you of good health. The minute you stop smoking or dipping, your body begins repairing the damage done over time. Begin reversing the effects of tobacco use be developing a plan, getting support and stopping today.
• Take advantage of the help and support available.
• Show your Okie grit. Be a quitter for life.
RESOURCES TO HELP YOU KICK THE TOBACCO HABIT:
Lisa Wade Raasch coordinates the city of Muskogee Wellness Initiative and directs the EOK Health Care Coalition. Connect online at www.facebook.com/