Every Jan. 1, people all over the world make New Year’s resolutions. If you’re one of the nearly 7 out of 10 current U.S. smokers who want to quit, why not add it to your list for 2015?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is still the No. 1 cause of preventable death and disease in the United States. Quitting now can cut your risk for diseases caused by smoking and leave you feeling stronger and healthier.
Tiffany, a former smoker, found many benefits of quitting, such as tastier food and more energy. She describes some of the rewards that came to her when she quit in the video below, entitled “Surprising Things About Quitting” from CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers (Tips) campaign.
Most smokers who want to quit try several times before they succeed, but you can take steps that can improve your chances of quitting for good.
Develop a plan
Planning ahead is a major part of successfully quitting smoking. An effective plan might include:
‣ Picking a quit date. Starting the new year smoke-free is a great idea.
‣ Letting loved ones know you’re quitting so they can support you.
‣ Listing your reasons to quit smoking.
‣ Identifying triggers that make you want to smoke so you can avoid them, especially during the early days.
‣ Having places you can turn to for immediate help.
Take advantage of free resources
There are many free resources for people trying to quit smoking:
‣ 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) or 855-DÉJELO-YA (855-335-3569) (for Spanish speakers). This free quitline offers a lot of resources, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to other resources where you live.
‣ Smokefree TXT. This free 24/7 program sends encouragement, advice, and tips to help smokers quit smoking and stay quit. To get started, just text QUIT to 47848, answer a few questions, and you’ll start receiving messages.
‣ Online Help. This Tips From Former Smokers web page provides additional online quit resources.
Medications that can help
Because cigarettes contain nicotine, a powerfully addicting chemical, your body may feel uncomfortable until it adjusts. This is known as withdrawal, and there are medications that can help lessen this feeling and the urge to smoke. Studies show that smokers who use medicine to help control cravings, along with coaching from a quitline, in a group, or from a counselor, are much more likely to succeed than those who go it alone. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or other health care provider before using any medications if you:
• Are pregnant or nursing
• Have a serious medical condition
• Are currently using other medications
• Are younger than 18 years of age
Many options are available if you are considering using medications to help you quit smoking. The most common smoking medications are nicotine replacement therapies, which give your body a little of the nicotine that it craves without the harmful chemicals found in burning cigarettes. Examples of FDA-approved NRTs that you can buy over the counter include:
• Nicotine patches
• Nicotine gum
• Nicotine lozenges
NRTs that require a prescription include nicotine inhalers and nasal spray; your doctor can also prescribe medication that does not contain nicotine (such as bupropion or varenicline) to help you quit smoking completely.