What’s the best way to quit smoking?
BY: Stacey Colino
Kicking the habit is among the most common new year’s resolutions. After all, smoking increases your risk of heart disease, respiratory problems and numerous forms of cancer (including lung) -- plus it’s a major no-no when it comes to heartburn. How to optimize your chances of succeeding? “There’s no single best way to quit,” says Bill Blatt, director of tobacco programs at the American Lung Association (ALA). Rather, “it’s important to figure out the right combination of techniques for you.”
To do that, Blatt recommends finding smoking-cessation strategies that address three key factors:
1. Physical addiction to nicotine
To ease the physical withdrawal from nicotine, consider nicotine replacement therapy (gum, a patch, nasal spray, lozenges or inhaler) or an antidepressant that has been approved for smoking cessation. Ask your doctor for help in choosing the right method for you.
2. Psychological/emotional reasons why you smoke
For example, if smoking helps relieve stress, find a new relaxation technique, such as meditation or self-hypnosis.
3. Social aspects of smoking: when, where and with whom
For instance, if you usually light up when taking a break from work or playing poker with the guys, find an alternative such as taking a walk with a colleague or chewing gum.
Remember: “Quitting is not an event, it’s a process. So you need to try different techniques to see what works for you,” says Blatt. “It takes most people multiple attempts to succeed in quitting for good.” So if your first attempt doesn’t stick, try and try again. For more help in kicking the habit, check out the ALA's Freedom From Smoking Web site.
Stacey Colino has written for The Washington Post's health section and many national magazines, including Newsweek, Woman's Day, SELF, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Parenting, Sports Illustrated and Ladies' Home Journal. Stacey is a frequent contributor to Live Right Live Well.