According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the United States. It’s a leading risk factor for major health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The good news is that nearly 7 in 10 adult smokers want to quit. But it’s usually not as simple as throwing out your pack of cigarettes. People who stop smoking often end up relapsing due to nicotine withdrawal symptoms, such as cravings, stress, irritability and weight gain.
If you’re ready to quit, here are five tips to help you stick with your goal:
- Be patient – The first 7-10 days are the hardest. Stay patient and remember your withdrawal symptoms will eventually subside.
- Eliminate triggers – Toss all tobacco products as well as items such as ashtrays and lighters. Anything that reminds you of smoking needs to go.
- Plan for cravings – When a craving hits, have a plan in place to call a friend, go for a walk, drink a large glass of water – anything that will keep you from lighting up. Keep in mind – most cravings only last 15-20 minutes.
- Rework your routine – If you always smoke at 10am, make plans to do something else during that time to keep your mind off smoking. Or if you like a cigarette with your after-work drink, it might be wise to skip happy hour for a while.
- If you slip up, get back on track – Most people slip up once or twice while trying to quit smoking. The important thing is to get back to your plan to quit right away. Don’t give up on your goal.
Your primary care provider is a great resource if you’re ready to quit smoking. He or she can help you identify triggers and provide tips to work through withdrawal symptoms. He or she may also refer you to a smoking cessation support group or recommend an over-the-counter nicotine replacement product or non-nicotine precription medication.
To learn more about quitting smoking, or to find a primary care provider near you, reach out to your health insurance provider.