Trying to quit smoking during a stressful time in your life can be a huge challenge. It takes a plan, and it helps if you do it with others, so Family HealthCare Associates encourages our patients to put down their tobacco, or vaping products on November 19th , and take part in the “Great American Smokeout,” an event sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Every year, 55% of American smokers try to quit each year and but can’t do it—so we’d like to provide some useful facts, as well as tips to help you become one of the 7.4% of American who succeed in quitting each year.

Although smoking has decreased significantly in the past decades—from 42% of Americans in 1965 to just 13.7% in 2018—it continues to be the main cause of preventable deaths in the U.S., accounting for nearly 30% of all cancer-related fatalities. One of the reasons is nicotine addiction does not just come from cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco anymore. Today, vaping e-cigarettes has become the new smoking epidemic, especially among teenagers.

Since vaping has not yet been stigmatized the same way smoking has, many people assume it’s harmless, but it’s not the healthy alternative to smoking many think it is. Vaping can lead to nicotine addiction, and it has potentially harmful chemicals like Diacetyl (which damages the lungs), Formaldehyde (which can cause lung disease) and Acrolein (which is used as a weed killer). If you are a parent of teenagers, know that most kids are introduced to vaping in middle school. If you notice your child has a chronic cough (and is not sick), keep an eye out for vaping devices in their room, which can look like regular objects, such as pens, USB drives, or even smartwatches.

Then educate them on the dangers of vaping. If you are an adult trying to kick the habit, here are 9 tips you can use to derail a relapse before it happens.

Kick The Smoking Habit With These 9 Tips

  1. Delay the Urge—When an intense urge hits, don’t give in. It will likely pass within five to 10 minutes whether you smoke a cigarette, or not.
  2. Distract your Mouth—Give yourself something to do to fight a tobacco craving like chewing sugarless gum, munching on raw vegetables, or low sodium nuts.
  3. Once You Puff, You Can’t Stop—You might be tempted to have just one cigarette. But don’t fool yourself into believing that you can stop there. More often than not, having just one leads to starting up again.
  4. Get Exercise—Physical activity can help distract you from tobacco cravings and reduce their intensity. Even short bursts of physical activity can make a craving go away.
  5. Find Ways To Relax—Smoking is often used as stress relief, so replace a cigarette with relaxation techniques, deep-breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation.
  6. Stay Away from Danger Zones—Don’t set yourself up for a relapse. Urges are likely to be strongest in the situations where you smoked before, so know your trigger situations and have a plan.
  7. Try Nicotine Replacement Therapy—Prescription medication, or over-the-counter nicotine patches, gum, and lozenges can help you overcome cravings.
  8. Call in the Calvary—Have a support group to lean on! Learn how others have handled fighting their tobacco cravings. There is even a free telephone line you can call (800-QUIT-NOW) that will support you in your journey to quit.
  9. Remember Why You Quit —Write them down, and make them your mantra. Remember, quitting smoking makes you feel better, it helps you save money and you will love a longer life, while sparing your loved ones from secondhand smoke.

We know tobacco cravings can be extremely powerful, but if you have tried quitting before Family Healthcare Associates encourages you to keep trying. It takes time so start with day one. Each time you resist the urge to smoke, dip, or vape, you are one step closer to stopping for good.