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Friday, March 7, 2014
Every year, all current smokers are encouraged to quit smoking for one day on the third Thursday in November as part of the Great American Smokeout.
Quitting tobacco is hard, and it may take a few serious tries before you are successful. The Smokeout is a good starting point. It helps smokers prove to themselves that they can go without smoking for 24 hours.
If you have thought about quitting, this is the perfect time to do it. You will find lots of support so you do not have to face quitting alone. Remember, half of all people who have ever smoked have quit! YOU can, too.
Here are some ideas that can help you get started.
Once you have decided that you are going to stop smoking, make a plan. Just like you would take a map on a road trip, you need to have a quitting plan ready for this important change in your life. For your plan you may want to:
Nicotine replacement products are available that can help "take the edge off" of withdrawal symptoms when you quit smoking:
These replace some of the nicotine that you used to get from tobacco products.
There isn't one form that is better than another; it all depends on what you prefer. Gum, lozenges, and the patch are available over-the-counter in most states, while sprays and inhalers require a prescription. The patch may be easiest to use because it is changed only once a day. Other forms of nicotine replacement require repeated use throughout the day, but this gives you some control to use them when you have a craving.
About 8 to 12 weeks of nicotine replacement is recommended. Talk with your health care provider first, especially if you are taking other medications or have a serious health problem.
Another option is a smoking cessation medication such as varenicline (Chantix) or bupropion (Zyban or Wellbutrin). This kind of prescription comes in pill form and does not contain nicotine; however, it has been found to take away some of the desire for a cigarette.
These medications work by blocking the pleasant effects of nicotine on the brain. They are taken for one week BEFORE you quit smoking so that there is a good level of the medicine in your system when you do quit. At least 7 to 12 weeks of medicine is usually recommended.
(Nicotine replacement and smoking cessation products discussed above may also be effective for quitting smokeless tobacco products.)
Free smoking cessation quitlines are an excellent resource and have been shown to double the quit rate. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to improve your success during the Great American Smokeout and any time you need additional help or encouragement to stay on track.
Your local branch of the American Cancer Society may have specific events planned for the Great American Smokeout in your area. For example, hospitals recognize babies born on the day of the Smokeout with "I'm a born non-smoker" t-shirts. The ultimate goal is to raise awareness and encourage smokers who are trying to end their nicotine dependence.
Currently, about 45 million adults smoke in the United States. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., causing about 1 of every 5 deaths each year.
Want to take part in a study about quitting smoking? Check out the American Cancer Society-George Washington University E-Quit Study.
This article is a NetWellness exclusive.
Last Reviewed: Oct 31, 2013
Karen L Ahijevych, PhD, RN, FAAN
Professor, College of Nursing
Professor, College of Public Health
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University