Each year on the third Thursday of November, communities all over the nation take part in the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout. During this event, smokers are challenged to quit using tobacco for at least 24 hours. The Great American Smokeout, 2012 takes place on Thursday, November 15!
If you're a tobacco user, the Great American Smokeout is a great time to take the challenge of quitting. By choosing to quit for at least one day, you can use the time to think about your tobacco use and prove to yourself that you can make the choice to quit.
There are many programs to help you quit smoking. The cost of these programs varies from almost nothing to hundreds of dollars. A higher cost does not guarantee success. Many health plans provide free quit-smoking programs and some cover the cost of medications. Check with your insurance carrier or employer for more information.
Before investing your time or money in a program, ask yourself:
Program representatives should be able to answer your questions. If they can't, keep looking. If a program seems too easy, guarantees you will quit, or claims a success rate that sounds unrealistic, look elsewhere.
Step 1 -- Preparing to Quit
Step 2 -- Using Medications
When you smoke a cigarette, a high concentration of nicotine enters your body rapidly and travels to your brain. Nicotine medications provide you with a safer, alternative source of nicotine that enters the body less rapidly and in a lower concentration than cigarettes. Nicotine medications have been extensively tested and used by millions of people. Unlike cigarettes, which contain thousands of harmful chemicals, nicotine medications contain small doses of nicotine alone to combat cravings.
Not everyone who decides to quit smoking will want or need to use medications. Depending on the medication, you may need a prescription. Always consult the package directions or your pharmacist or doctor before using, especially if you are pregnant or taking other medications.
If you plan to take nicotine medications, begin using them on your quit day. Non-nicotine medication should be started about seven to 10 days before your quit day. If you continue to have strong urges to smoke or are struggling to stop completely, ask your health care provider for help.
Other Tips for Using Medications:
Step 3 -- Staying Smoke-Free
After the first couple of weeks, staying off cigarettes is critical. Research indicates that continued support and encouragement from health care providers, family, friends and other sources is extremely helpful.
The average person makes two to four attempts at quitting before staying smoke-free. If you return to smoking, it doesn't mean you can't quit. It just means you need to figure out what caused you to slip and improve your plan for next time. For instance, you may want to use medications this time if you have tried to quit without them in the past, or try a different group, counselor or source of help.
Some smokers wrongly believe they can reduce their health risks and continue to smoke by substituting other forms of tobacco. Low-tar or low-nicotine cigarettes are not safer than cigarettes, nor do they reduce your risk of smoking-related disease. Smokeless tobacco, pipes and cigars are not safe.
Call your local American Lung Association toll free at 800.586.4872 (800 LUNG USA) to find out more about how to stop smoking for good.
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