Whether you use a regular cigarette or e-cigarette, quitting the habit is key to your longevity. There’s even new evidence that a healthy diet, rich in tomatoes or fruits, can reverse some of the damage from the smoking. Use these 4 techniques to quit smoking.
Side effects of smoking cigarettes
There’s no disputing the impact smoking has on your life, especially as you age. Smoking has many side effects for you and those who inhale the second-hand smoke.
Smokers are more likely to develop heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and other lung diseases than non-smokers.
Even worse, it causes death. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths every year or one if five deaths.
On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. So, quit smoking as quickly as possible to increase your chances of a better outcome as you age.
Plus, there are unaccounted for health expenses. Some you may realize this at the time you quit smoking, and others may be in your future.
Our health is priceless, and it’s important that all generations understand this including adolescents and teens who are turning to vaping and electronic cigarettes. More high school students are using e-cigarettes than adults, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.
It’s a troubling trend considering the brain is the last organ to develop fully, around age 25. So, the nicotine can harm the part of the brain that controls attention and learning. E-cigarettes can lead to nicotine addiction, mood disorders, and a lowering of impulse control.
Hopefully, these serious consequences are reason enough to get you to stop smoking, vaping, or using e-cigs.
Will vaping help me quit smoking?
Some adults use e-cigarettes to kick the smoking habit. The Centers for Disease Control say scientists are still studying whether they’re an effective way to quit smoking.
There are some studies showing it’s effective in some groups. The New England Journal of Medicine published a study that looked at nearly 900 smokers, trying to quit. E-cigarettes were more effective than nicotine-replacement therapy in this study.
Despite the success, only 18-percent of people in the e-cigarette group weren’t using regular cigarettes. So, more than 80-percent had not quit smoking. That shows how truly addictive cigarettes are and that there may be more beneficial ways to quit smoking.
Harvard Health notes quit rates are 20-25% when choosing counseling, nicotine replacement therapy like the patch or gum, and medications to reduce the urge to smoke like Chantix or Zyban.
Some people even try nasal sprays, lozenges, and inhalers. While not proven to have a lasting impact, some smokers find success with hypnosis and acupuncture to quit smoking.
How to quit smoking
No matter which method you use to stop smoking, even perhaps quitting cold turkey, make a plan and stick with it.
- Create a specific goal.
- Set up a date to quit smoking, and prepare.
- Identify your smoking triggers.
- Use the 4 D’s to resist the urge to smoke.
First, set a goal. Is it to quit smoking altogether or to cut back and eventually quit? Set yourself up for success, rather than failure, even if it means taking small steps to reach that goal. Use these S.M.A.R.T. techniques to set yourself up to reach your goal!
For example, if you say you’re going to quit but you’re smoking a pack a day it may be extremely difficult. Rather than going back to your old habit and feeling like you failed, take small steps to reach your eventual goal of no cigarettes.
Tally the number of cigarettes/cigars/other tobacco delivery systems you utilize each day and plan on reducing that number by one each week. It may take a while before you reach zero, but slow and steady wins the race. Plus, you’ll feel more successful by setting realistic goals than unrealistic ones and failing.
And, of course, speak with your physician before you begin your attempts at tobacco cessation to determine additional options as well as to make sure you are not putting your health at risk by attempting to stop acutely.
Prepare for a Quit Day
Second, set a date to quit smoking. Once it’s on the calendar, prepare for that approaching date.
Set up counseling appointments, get medication, surround yourself with support, and pick up new healthy habits to replace the old one. Surround yourself with motivation and inspiration because you’ll likely need it.
That motivation may come from looking at the cost of smoking. So, to prepare for your quit date write down how much you spend on cigarettes.
When you add up the cost of cigarettes, you may be surprised at the expense of your addiction. It will likely be more than you think.
Think about what else you could do with that money if you stopped your tobacco habit and used your hard-earned money on something else that has meaning for you. For example, you could be:
- saving for a rainy day/emergency fund
- saving for a vacation/staycation
- purchasing season tickets to your favorite team’s games
- contributing to an education fund for you or your children
- adding to your rent/mortgage payment
- saving to buy a house/car
- saving to make home repairs and renovations
- buying that dress or pair of shoes, you’ve had your eyes on for a while
- saving for your December holiday purchases
- spending it on anything else that has meaning for you
The numbers will serve as reminders for why you’re quitting and help motivate you when you have an urge to smoke. Think about the possibilities in life if you invested your money in a new home, car, or vacation rather than smoking.
Think about the other costs of smoking on your life. These may include the following:
- the feeling you get when you are outside in the cold/heat in that “special” smoke-filled area with all of the other smokers who have been “banished from the kingdom.”
- the potential risk to employment — not getting the job in the first place or paying higher health insurance premiums if you don’t quit
- the feeling and stress of not being in control that comes with any addiction
- the time wasted that could be spent finding alternative ways to relax, maintain weight, take a break, interact with others, etc.
Keep the financial and health costs nearby, and refer to them when you have the urge to smoke. Use them as motivation and inspiration to sustain your new habit.
Identify and manage your smoking triggers
Next, identify and manage your smoking triggers. Alcohol, caffeine, and stress are likely triggers. Try to avoid these situations to reduce the urge to smoke.
You may have obvious triggers and hidden ones. While you’re preparing for your quit day, take note of when you smoke and what triggered that feeling. This will help you prepare.
If stress is a problem, learn how to manage it so it doesn’t control your life. Try these stress management techniques so you can resist the urge and stay relaxed.
Consider that some friendships may trigger your urge to smoke. Studies show we have or may develop similar habits as those with whom we spend a lot of time. So, if your friends, family, or co-workers smoke, are overweight, or don’t engage in physical activity, it is more likely that you will behave in the same manner.
It’s also true that if one person in the group takes steps to break a bad habit, others will also.
You have a chance to be a pioneer and bring better health to yourself as well as your social circle.
And if your social circle is never going to think about making a change, then the time might be right to “diversify your portfolio” and begin to engage with people who are living life without a tobacco habit.
Dealing with the urge to smoke
While the aforementioned steps will help you resist the urge, the 4 D method works too.
The American Cancer Society suggests following the 4 D’s when you’re feeling the urge to resort to your old habit. Remember, take small steps.
- Deep breathe.
- Drink water.
- Do something else.
If you need to walk away and delay that urge, do so. Whether it’s walking away from a stressful situation or a group of friends.
While delaying, deep breathe. Mindfulness really helps with this. Focus on the present rather than the past event that triggered your urge to smoke.
You don’t need a quiet oasis to practice mindfulness. It can be done anywhere.
It starts with focusing on your breath. There’s power in breathing. Learn how to channel that energy to help you overcome your old smoking habit.
Next, drink water throughout the day. Sip it slowly, to help with the oral fixation.
Finally, do something else. Find a new hobby, habit, or exercise routine. Do something to keep yourself busy so you’re less likely to think about that cigarette.
Reversing the effects of smoking
While quitting smoking is one of the first ways to improve your health, you may experience long-lasting effects from the years of nicotine. Choosing a diet high in tomatoes and fruits shows promising results to improve your lung function. This is according to a study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
So, how many tomatoes do you need to eat? Researchers found adults who ate more than two tomatoes or more than three portions of fresh fruit a day saw their lung function decline slower.
That’s promising for non-smokers who want to slow down aging and people who quit smoking and experience complications from lung damage.
Take small steps
No one says it will be easy to quit smoking. Managing an addiction never is. In fact, for most everyone, it will be quite difficult. After all, you started smoking and continue to do so for a reason, right? So, it brings some tangible benefit — social interaction, reduction in stress, weight management, makes some of your Crohn’s disease symptoms better, etc.
You have more power than you may realize, so take small steps to change your life and health. Smoking is just one of the many small steps you can take in life to find happiness.
Whether you’re grabbing an e-cigarette or a regular one, there’s no better time than today to quit.
What technique will you use to be successful at quitting smoking?