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Healthy habits: Trying to quit smoking? Several strategies can help

Mar. 07, 2013 @ 02:30 PM

Nearly two weeks into the New Year and you're still kicking the habit? Good for you! For those of you still waiting to make the decision, consider these facts. Experts say quitting smoking is the single most important step a smoker can take to improve the length and quality of his or her life. As soon as you quit, your body actually begins to repair the damage caused by smoking. It is not an easy process, of course. According to the American Lung Association (ALA) six out of 10 smokers require multiple quit attempts to stop smoking. There are a number of strategies smokers can choose from to increase their chance of quitting:

Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about various over-the-counter or prescription medications to assist with cessation.

Set a date a few weeks off for quitting and ensure that you stick to it by preparing for it.

Preparation might involve analyzing when, where and with whom you smoke so you can change your routines. If you smoke in breaks at work, find a nonsmoking friend who'll walk a few blocks with you.

Join a support group or enlist the help of friends and family.

Some smokers quit while on vacation -- when they're away from their smoking buddies and other triggers.

Don't be discouraged if you try to quit and fail. Analyze what went wrong and set a new quitting date. Remember, most smokers need more than one try to quit successfully.

Smoking is a powerful addiction that robs smokers not just years of life, but of many more years of good health and vigor. No matter how old you are or how many years you've smoked, the health gains of quitting begin right away and increase with the number of years you live as an ex-smoker.

Healthy Habits 2013 is a partnership among Cabell Huntington Hospital, Marshall University, Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and St. Mary's Medical Center. We are a community working together to improve our health. Check out a "Healthy Habits" tip every Friday in The Herald-Dispatch.

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