You can quit smoking: Help is here

“No thanks, I don’t smoke.” Do you wish you, too, could say that?

We all know that the risks of smoking range from different forms of cancer to heart disease. Yet, smoking continues to cause illness, diminish quality of life, and raise health care costs for many people.

In general, there are more men who smoke than women who smoke. But, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking-related diseases cause the deaths of more than 200,000 women in the United States each year. On average, women who smoke die 14.5 years sooner than non-smokers.

Quitting is not easy. You might have tried a few times before you were able to quit for good. Many are still trying to quit. One important thing to remember is you don’t have to do it “cold turkey.” There are many options to help you along the way.

Nicotine replacement therapy
A variety of nicotine replacement products have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They include the nicotine patch, gum, inhaler, lozenges and nasal spray. Patches, gum and lozenges do not require a prescription. A doctor’s prescription is necessary for nasal sprays or inhalers.

Two types of medication can help smokers quit. One is bupropion (marketed as an antidepressant under the brand name Wellbutrin and as a quit-smoking aid under the brand name Zyban); the other is varenicline (Chantix). Bupropion can be used in combination with nicotine replacement therapy, but varenicline is used by itself, and it comes with some warnings about mood disorders. Talk with your doctor about benefits and risks of each option.

Social support
Support from friends, family and health professionals is an important component of quitting. Consider, for instance, 1-800-QuitNow, which connects you to your state quit line and guarantees five phone calls from a counselor to help you quit. Consider joining a support group, either in person or online, for people who want to quit smoking.

Electronic cigarettes
Although smoking cessation experts have yet to give e-cigarettes the green light, many smokers are already using them to become smoke-free. The devices use heat to turn nicotine and other chemicals into a vapor that’s inhaled, much like smoking a cigarette.

Try again
If you have set a quit-smoking date and stopped abruptly only to pick up cigarettes again, you’re not alone. Try again, and this time cut back gradually on your smoking. Prepare for this big change and anticipate any obstacles or stress you might have. Avoid situations or places that make you want to smoke. Trade a smoking break for physical activity. Surround yourself with people who are supportive. Practice saying, “No thanks, I don’t smoke.” And take it one day at a time. With perseverance, you can quit.

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