It’s Quitting Time

Nobody needs to be told in this day and age that smoking is bad for your health, or that it can even kill you. But quitting can be tough.

Here are some excellent reasons to try nonetheless.

Quitting reduces your risk for cancer, heart disease, stroke, cataracts and other diseases — significantly.

It reduces your risk for illness in general.

Your teeth, fingernails and skin will all look healthier and more youthful.

Your food will taste better.

More importantly, not smoking will set a good example for your children and grandchildren and will protect your loved ones from secondhand smoke.

If you smoke, you may not realize how much your habit affects everyone in your family, especially your kids and grandchildren. The dangers of secondhand smoke are real: It can cause cancer, heart disease, breathing problems, difficulty getting pregnant (and maintaining a healthy pregnancy), greater susceptibility to colds and flu, ear and lung infections in kids — and it also aggravates asthma in those who breathe it in passively.

If you want to quit, but you’re having trouble doing so, there are plenty of places to get help. First, consult your healthcare provider and pharmacist to see what resources they can provide — including medications, nicotine gum or nicotine patches. You can also find a Quit Guide  developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/ tips/quit-smoking/guide/index.html. Here you’ll find information on why and how to quit, including how to make a Quit Plan, where to get support and how to remain smoke-free.

The CDC suggests getting prepared mentally by setting a quit date in the near future (but not on a day or night that you expect to be in a stressful situation); telling family and friends what you are doing and asking for their help and support; anticipating challenges, such as triggers, and identifying things you can do to avoid them; removing tobacco products from your car, home and office, and cleaning the smoke smell from drapes and clothes to give yourself a fresh start.

Nicotine leaves your body within three days. Even though you will initially feel worse, you will eventually feel better. Check with your pharmacist about possible reactions to quitting nicotine, and medications that may help you stick with the plan to quit.

Within three months, your circulation and lung function will improve. After nine months, you’ll cough less and breathe better. After just one year, your risk of coronary heart disease will be cut by half and after 15 years, your risk of heart disease will be no worse than that of a nonsmoker.

In other words, chances are you will be able to spend a great deal more time with those kids and grandkids — quality, smoke-free time!