“Up to a point a man’s life is shaped by environment, heredity, and movements and changes in the world about him; then there comes a time when it lies within his grasp to shape the clay of his life into the sort of thing he wishes to be... Everyone has it within his power to say, this I am today, that I shall be tomorrow.”

— Louis L’Amour (U.S. author)

No Smoking

Preparing for a Smoke-Free Life

Smoking is arguably the single hardest bad habit to break. The addiction to the nicotine in cigarettes, experts say, is even stronger than the addiction to street drugs such as heroin and crystal meth. In fact, it takes most smokers an average of three tries before they are successfully able to break the habit, and almost none succeed by simply going cold turkey. Each individual's motivations for quitting are different, and they must be identified and taken into consideration if the effort is to be successful. To start, make a list of things that worry you about smoking, such as health problems, health risks for family members or concern that your children may start smoking. Follow that by making a list of rewards you can expect once you quit. Among these are…

  • a healthier, younger-looking body.
  • fresher-smelling clothes and breath.
  • significant financial savings.
  • providing a good example for your children and others.
  • encouraging other smokers among your family and friends to quit.

Removing Roadblocks

Another way to prepare yourself to quit is to plan in advance for any obstacles you may occur while quitting. Some examples:

  • Nicotine withdrawal. Few people are ever successful at quitting cold turkey due to the severity of nicotine withdrawal symptoms (irritability, insomnia, trouble concentrating, cravings). Take advantage of new medications and patches that help you cope with the withdrawal. It can also help to distract yourself with a new hobby or by exercising.

  • Weight gain. A few extra pounds won't hurt you as much as continuing to smoke, yet it's a major reason why many people, especially women and teenagers, refuse to quit. Instead of trying to diet and quit at the same time, increase your activity level. Exercise will help relieve withdrawal symptoms, while at the same time keeping your weight under control.

  • Depression/Stress. Medication, hypnosis and counseling can help treat any withdrawal-related depression and help you cope with stress. Counseling is especially useful in teaching you new ways to deal with stress without turning back to cigarettes.

  • Personal triggers. Most smokers have rituals — a morning cup of coffee and a cigarette or a regular smoke after eating. If you're serious about quitting, take the time to write down all your triggers, so you can devise methods to avoid as many of them as possible. Make a list of things you can do at the office or home when you crave a cigarette, such as cleaning out a drawer, sewing on a button, organizing a portfolio, exercise, etc.

  • Support. Ideally, all those around you should support your efforts to quit. If they don't, you may need to minimize contact with the naysayers, at least for a while.

  • Alcohol. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and increases your desire to smoke. It's best if you can eliminate or cut back on alcohol, especially during the first three weeks after you quit.

Foods Can Make or Break Cigarette Taste

When you're trying to quit smoking, what you eat can make a big difference. That's because certain foods and beverages make cigarettes taste terrible, while others actually improve their flavor. Knowing this can help people who are trying to quit smoking succeed by simply modifying their eating or drinking habits.

About 70 percent of smokers in a recent study reported certain foods made their cigarettes taste better or worse. Those that worsen the taste include…

    Fruits and vegetables
    Dairy-based foods and beverages
    Non-caffeinated beverages such as water and fruit juice

Among the items improving the taste of cigarettes are…

    Alcoholic beverages
    Caffeinated beverages

Did You Know?

Chemical traces of cigarette smoke can be found in babies of parents who smoke, according to new research.

Specifically cotinine, a chemical released when a person's body breaks down nicotine, is found in a majority of infants who have one or more parents who smoke. The amount is quadrupled if it's the mother who smokes and doubled if it's the father who smokes, the research found.

It's not yet known how these elevated cotinine levels impact a baby's overall health, yet the researchers note that exposing your baby to any type of tobacco smoke isn't healthy.

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