Editorial: Be a quitter

The American Cancer Society is inviting people to “celebrate more birthdays” by quitting smoking during this year’s Great American Smokeout today, Nov. 20.

If you or someone you love is looking to “kick the habit” this year, here are some helpful tips on how to break free from a smoking addiction.

1. Don’t keep it a secret. Include your friends and family in your quitting process; they can offer much-needed support.

2. You’re not alone. More and more people are trying to break free from cigarettes and there are lots of support options available. Many communities, employers, and health care organizations have free or low-cost counseling and support available to help you quit. Call the American Cancer Society at 800-227-2345 to find out what’s available.

3. Talk to your doctor. Before you begin any plan for quitting smoking you should check with your doctor to see what might be the best approach for you. Remember, quitting smoking is very personal and there isn’t one perfect method.

4. Dump the memories. Clear the places where you usually smoke of anything that reminds you of cigarettes — like lighters, ashtrays, or matches. Clean your house and car thoroughly to remove the smell of cigarettes.

5. Avoid places where smokers gather. Go to the movies or other places where smoking is not allowed.

6. Stay calm and stay busy. You may feel some nervous energy, so consider taking long strolls and deep breaths of fresh air, and find things to keep your hands busy. If you feel a craving for a cigarette coming on, take a deep breath, count to 10 and then do something else. Call a supportive friend or do a few exercises. Anything that will take your mind off your cravings.

7. One will hurt. Many people fall into the trap of thinking that if they only have one cigarette it’s OK. But even that one smoke can get you back in the habit of smoking full time. Keeping a supply of oral substitutes like carrots, apples, raisins, or gum handy can help.

8. Water, water everywhere. Drink lots of fluids to help curb cravings. Water is the best for this, and you’ll want to pass up on coffee and alcohol if they trigger your desire to smoke.

It’s not easy to quit smoking. Studies have indicated cigarettes are more addictive than heroin, and the first three weeks after you quit can be the most difficult.

If you stumble along the way to giving up smoking, don’t punish yourself. Just try again.

The American Cancer Society can help 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.