Turn Out the Light: How Lifelong Smokers Can Really Quit

Lifelong smoking affects your health in dramatic ways. Smoking increases your risk for heart disease, stroke and lung cancer while shortening your life expectancy by an average of 11.5 years. Data shows that women who are lifelong smokers have a 50 percent higher risk of death than those who don’t light up.

As alarming as that sounds, your health starts to improve quickly as soon as you quit. Within 12 hours after quitting, your blood’s carbon monoxide level becomes normal and after two to three months your circulation and lung capacity improve. But quitting isn’t easy (if it were, you’d have done it already!). The good news is that these days, there are more ways than ever to kick the habit for good. Here’s how to conquer your cravings:

  1. Use free resources at your disposal: Our smoking cessation resource/quiz and various videos are packed with information and tips to get you closer to quitting. They’re both great ways to get you started on your journey quitting smoking.
  2. Enlist help: Between dealing with withdrawal symptoms and staying committed, quitting can be hard. Ask for friends and family to help keep you honest and on-track for the road ahead. If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to someone you know, several hotlines are also available for anonymous support.
  3. Replace the habit: You know the moments when you are most likely to reach for a cigarette. Prepare for them by penciling in other activities so you feel less tempted. Say you always took an afternoon smoke break at work. Instead, plan on going for a walk with a coworker or browsing in a favorite nearby shop. It will give you something to look forward to instead of just sitting and wishing you were smoking.
  4. Focus on the little wins: Lifelong habits are often the hardest to break. Take your journey day by day and relish the little things that make you feel good, like having clothes that don’t smell and saving the money you would have spent on cigarettes.
  5. Eat right: Not only will a healthy diet give you energy and help you feel good, but studies show that certain foods and drinks, such as red meat and coffee, can make your cigarette cravings worse. Choose healthier options like chicken and green tea to help curb them.
  6. Be patient with yourself: Quitting smoking is one of the toughest things to do, so don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon. The key is to keep trying again, no matter what.

Are you a former smoker who found a way to quit? Share your story with us in the comments! It may just motivate someone else to stop smoking for good, too.

Photo credit: Moonfall Pix


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  1. I wanted to do something that was going to be almost impossible if I still smoked, so I set a date and stopped smoking that day. It was hard, but I promised myself a treat each week I didn’t smoke. Then one day, as I was buying my treat for that week, I told the cashier what I was doing. She told me to try black licorice every time I wanted a cigarette – just a small piece. Bought some that day, cut it into half-inch pieces, and tried it. It worked!! Been over 30 years now since my last cigarette. Just think of all the money I’ve saved!!

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