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Quick Tips to Quit Smoking (January 2011)

By Casey Rives, Contributing Writer

 

Along with the common “get fit” resolution comes an entire idea about overall health and how to improve one’s life—including the need to quit smoking.

Melissa Shaver, 21, of Gainesville, realized her addiction to cigarettes was causing health problems when she began losing endurance and her workout routines became more difficult.

“I’ve been rowing for West Virginia University’s crew for about three years now and I’ve been a smoker for even longer,” said Shaver. “I just realized how unhealthy it was and how bad I felt, even though I’m so young.” Shaver quit smoking in June 2010 and hasn’t picked up a cigarette since.

“My plan was to chew a piece of gum or go to the gym every time I felt the urge to smoke,” Shaver said. “Since I quit smoking, I feel like I have more energy and I don’t smell like smoke all the time.”

Substituting a healthy alternative to a cigarette when the urge to smoke comes along is a great way to quit smoking. However, not everyone is as independent as Shaver and many individuals need a support group to help them quit smoking.

Cigarettes are composed of many damaging substances, including tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide. The National Cancer Institute estimates that about 90 percent of lung cancer cases are due to smoking. Alongside cancer, smoking can also lead to high blood pressure and emphysema.

Most smokers understand the dangers associated with smoking, but continue to smoke anyway. Why is it so hard to quit?

“Nicotine is known to be one of the most addictive substances and causes smokers to have a hard time quitting,” said Amanda, a smoking cessation counselor for the North American Quitline Consortium who spoke on condition of anonymity. Quitlines are telephone-based tobacco cessation services that help tobacco users quit.

“Our help line is designed to provide a sense of encouragement, resources and support,” Amanda said.

The website www.smokefree.gov is also a great resource for those trying to quit smoking. e site, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is a worldwide project dedicated to helping individuals quit smoking. It provides users with information about the risks of smoking, information about medication that is available to help end addiction, and more.

A smoking calculator offered on the site shows smokers that smoking is not only bad for their health but for their bank account as well. An individual who spends $3.50 for a pack of cigarettes and smokes 12 cigarettes a day, for example, is estimated to spend $766.50 per year on cigarettes.

“The great thing about our ‘quit coaches’ is everything is free,” said Amanda. “By calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW, every client is given unlimited resources about how to quit and why to quit. The first call is at least 30 minutes and we set up a plan for how you can quit.”

Quit coaches are trained to help smokers face the reality of how hard being smoke-free can be.

“We try to exploit every situation—being around people who still smoke, having the ability to buy cigarettes whenever and we show people how to get over that feeling of ‘I need a cigarette,’” said Amanda.

Research from the National Cancer Instituite shows that planning ahead and setting goals for each step in the quitting process is important in the transition from smoker to non- smoker.

1-800-QUIT-NOW not only provides help over the phone but counselors also link clients to different local support groups.

Smoking cessation counselors are available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.–8 p.m., to answer questions about setting up a plan to quit smoking or provide support to those who are feeling the need to smoke again. All personal information is kept private and counselors do not require clients to give out any information if they feel uncomfortable doing so.

For more help on how to quit smoking or to find a local support group, please call 1-800-QUITNOW.

Writer Casey Rives, who resides in Haymarket, Va., is acommunications major at George Mason University. Herexpected graduation date is December 2011.

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