Starting a new year with new goals can be exciting. Quitting smoking is a resolution that many smokers set for themselves. Although it’s not always easy, finding new ways to help yourself quit smoking can be a good start. Picking a specific date like New Year’s Day is one great way to start your journey to becoming smokefree.
Wilma threw out her lighters and ashtrays and made the decision in 2007 to quit smoking for good. She had been smoking since her early teens, and smoked cigarettes for 30 years. It wasn’t until her mid-forties that Wilma decided she needed to stop smoking. She had tried to quit before, but just like most smokers who want to quit, it took several attempts before she was successful. Wilma eventually quit smoking for good over 10 years ago.
Quitting smoking cuts your risk of disease and death, and can leave you feeling stronger and healthier. Today Wilma enjoys activities—and a lifestyle—she never dreamed of as a smoker. She exercises more and is involved in yoga, which helps her cope with nicotine withdrawal. She also eats healthier foods than she did when she smoked. Wilma is featured in the Tips From Former Smokers ® campaign and hopes her story can inspire others. “I want to be an inspiration for others to quit smoking, even if it’s just one person,” she says. “It’s your health.”
If you’re one of the nearly 7 in 10 U.S. cigarette smokers who want to quit, why not make your New Year’s resolution to get started in 2018? “Once you quit, it opens up so many possibilities that you don’t see when you are caught up in the addiction,” Wilma advises others.
Wilma tried to quit smoking cigarettes several times before finally quitting for good more than 10 years ago.
Develop a Quit Plan
Like Wilma, you can take steps that can improve your chances of quitting for good. Planning ahead is a major part of successfully quitting smoking. Smokefree.gov offers details on how to create an effective quit plan, including:
- Picking a quit date. Starting the new year smokefree is a great idea.
- Letting loved ones know you’re quitting so they can support you.
- Listing your reasons to quit smoking.
- Figuring out what triggers make you want to smoke so you can avoid them, especially during the early days of quitting.
Find Medication That’s Right for You
Wilma got advice from her doctor and used a prescription to help her quit smoking. You can also talk to your health care provider about medicines that may help you quit.
Because cigarettes contain nicotine, a powerfully addictive drug, when you first quit, your body may feel uncomfortable until it adjusts. This is known as withdrawal, and there are medications that can help lessen this feeling and the urge to smoke. Studies show that smokers who use medicine to quit—along with coaching from a quitline, in a group, or from a counselor—have greater odds of succeeding than those who don’t. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider before using any medications if you:
- Are pregnant or nursing
- Have a serious medical condition
- Are currently using other medications
- Are younger than 18
Many options are available if you are considering using medications to help you quit smoking. The most common smoking medications are nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs), which give your body the nicotine that it craves without the harmful chemicals found in burning cigarettes. Examples of Food and Drug Administration-approved NRTs that you can buy over the counter include:
- Nicotine patches
- Nicotine gum
- Nicotine lozenges
NRTs that need a prescription include nicotine inhalers and nasal spray. Your doctor can also prescribe medication that does not contain nicotine (such as bupropion or varenicline) to help you quit smoking completely.
Even if you don’t smoke yourself, you can use these resources to help a friend or family member become smokefree in 2018!