November 16, 2011 at 4:05 pm , by Carisa McLaughlin
I can still picture my mom walking around the house with a cigarette in her mouth getting ready in the mornings. She’d curl her hair and do her makeup with an ashtray on the counter. Everyone knew her as a smoker; her cigarettes were as much a part of her look as the signature blonde highlights in her long brown hair.
She picked up cigarettes when she was just 16, and she smoked for almost 30 years. Even as a kid, I knew she needed to quit. She’d tell me: “Even though Mommy smokes, you should never do it. It’s very, very bad for you.” I used to write her letters, begging her to put down cigarettes for good.
Five years ago this month, she finally did it.
Nicotine, the main chemical in cigarettes, is one of the most addictive substances there is. My mom struggled with cravings for an entire year afterward! But now, just the faintest smell of cigarettes disgusts her.
Being smoke-free is something to celebrate and that’s why tomorrow is such an exciting day. The Great American Smokeout, always one week before Thanksgiving, starts tomorrow and is an incentive for smokers to quit. The American Cancer Society hosts the Smokeout every year, giving smokers the confidence and support to stop smoking–which is perfect timing considering November is also National Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
Tobacco use is the largest preventable cause of death in the United States, yet more than 46 million Americans still smoke. The benefits of quitting are immediate: Your circulation and blood pressure improve, and your risk of cancer decreases with every cigarette-free year.
Besides the health incentive, the reasons to quit are piling up. Smoking is becoming banned in more and more places and the price of cigarettes is on the rise. People’s attitudes toward smoking are changing, too. A recent survey from Yahoo! Shine found that 57 percent of men and 71 percent of women said smoking is “very uncool,” and 61 percent of people aged 18-34 said they have never tried smoking.
READY TO KICK THE HABIT?
If you or a loved one is thinking about quitting, here are some tips to get started:
1. Talk with your doc. Make an appointment, share your concerns (weight gain? depression?) and ask about any resources he or she may have to help you.
2. Pick the day you’re going to quit. Choosing a day such as the Great American Smokeout adds support and motivation to get you started.
3. Remove temptation. Get rid of all of the cigarettes in your house, your car, your purse—wherever you’ve been keeping them. And toss out that “back-up emergency stash” too!
4. Share your goal. Start talking to friends, family members and even coworkers about how you’re planning to quit and start building the support network you’ll need to get you through it.
5. Anticipate the challenges. Breaking any habit is hard, but knowing that what you’re doing is for your own benefit will help you through the process.
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