It harms every organ in your body. That’s one reason to quit. Smoking also causes nearly one-third of all cancers, leads to heart and respiratory diseases and kills an estimated 443,000 Americans every year — those are some others. To help you kick the habit, we asked The Doctors’ Facebook followers how they quit, and quit for good. Hundreds of former smokers responded: They told us it’s tough, they said you have to be committed, but they showed us it’s possible. Here is some of their best advice:
Make lists: Write down your reasons to stop smoking (and have it ready to read when you’re jonesing) and jot down things you enjoy doing (to help you replace cigarettes in the time slots you used to smoke). Other strategies that worked for me: Suck on cherry cough drops for the strong taste; chew on coffee stirrers for the oral fixation; tell people you are quitting so they can help cheer you on; reward benchmarks (with a massage or new clothes, for example); and pray. — Kendall C.
Find motivation in your family: I saw an episode of The Doctors where a young mother learned she had Stage 3 [lung] cancer and had to tell her children she didn’t have much longer to live. I’m a single mom to two little girls, and that scared me so much I quit the next day. It made me realize my smoking was selfish. It takes a lot of willpower, but if you really want it, you can do it. -— Kelly F.
Get moving: I tried to quit for over 15 years, and then about two years ago, I started exercising. Running became my thing, and now I won’t touch a smoke if you paid me. Since I quit, I’ve accomplished many 5K races, a 10K and even a 4-mile mud race with obstacles! — Erin M.
Go cold turkey: I knew if I used anything else to quit, it would only become another habit to break. Although I do chew lots and lots of gum now — I guess that’s my new habit! — Karen T.
Keep your hands busy: I took up crocheting. — Edie N.
Know the urge will pass: I carried a little card that said: “The urge for a cigarette will pass in 10 minutes whether you have one or not.” Most of the time, that was true. — Renee S.
Save money: When I quit, I saved what I would have spent on cigarettes and bought me a Harley! — Rhonda M.
Join a support group: I’m a respiratory therapist, and I see people every day struggle to quit. To learn different strategies, enroll in a Freedom from Smoking program — being in a group makes you feel as if you’re not fighting the battle alone; plus, you hear how others are dealing with the same things you’re experiencing. — Tracy S. (Freedom from Smoking programs are offered through the American Lung Association. For more information, visit lungusa.org.)
Stop and think: I quit 10 years ago when I had a heart attack, but what helped me stay off cigarettes was to really sit back and watch others smoke, see them inhale all those chemicals, and I kept asking myself, “Why do any of us want to do this to ourselves?” That’s the most insidious part of smoking — we don’t think about it, we just do it. — Joanne D.
Shift your routine: I started smoking when I was 11 years old; by the time I was 28, I was up to four packs a day, had heart palpitations, trouble breathing and sharp pains in my back and knew it was time to quit. What helped me: I skipped the activities in my life that lead to smoking — I stopped meeting friends for Friday night drinks; at work, I used to always light on break, so instead I ate my lunch and then went right back to work instead of hanging around. I kept myself busy with other things, and as each day passed, it gave me more incentive to continue on my course. — Ronnie R.
Consider it taking back control: I’ll never forget a friend who missed singing “Happy Birthday” to her little girl because she had to go out for a cigarette. Smokers don’t realize how much they check out of life when they go on their smoke break. The cigarettes are controlling your life. — Janice K.
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