Finding a reason to quit

by Paula Anderson – Smoking Cessation Liaison, Primary Care Partners

Most tobacco users wish they had never picked up that first cigarette or bought that first can of chew.

Most of them would like to quit.

It’s not that there’s not enough information out there about all the nasty things it does to your body.  Even a black lung in a jar doesn’t seem to be enough of a motivator.

Non-tobacco users would say, “Why don’t they just quit?”

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I’ve talked with several hundred tobacco users since I took on the job of Smoking Cessation Liaison at Primary Care Partners.

I’ve learned a few things.

Most tobacco users tell me that stress is the biggest reason they don’t try, and others tell me it’s the biggest reason they fail.

But stress is a fact of life. Stress can be a good thing when it comes in the form of an exciting challenge or change; but not good if it overwhelms and defeats us.

The real challenge is not to be stress-free, but to empower ourselves enough to we believe that we don’t need tobacco to manage it.

So how do we come to a place where we can relinquish our relationship with tobacco as a familiar friend we rely on?

We begin by envisioning our future without it. What would we like to be doing three years from now, a year from now, or even a month from now if tobacco wasn’t robbing us of our health – and our money?

Listen to your body.

Do you have as much energy as you would like?

Do you find you don’t have much lung capacity for vigorous exercise?

Are you anxious much of the time?

How’s your blood pressure?

All of those things improve when you quit smoking.

How much money are you spending on tobacco?  If you smoke a pack a day, that’s about $1,700 a year!

Once you have some motivators, then you can create a plan.

Identify the resources in the community to help you quit. has a list of them ready for you to start your journey to becoming tobacco free!

What kind of a support system do you have? Do your friends smoke or chew?

Also, pay attention to the times of day you typically smoke. Do you light up when you get in the car? When you’re at your computer or on the phone? Is it with that first cup of coffee in the morning? Plan how you’ll handle those cravings, ahead of time.

Find an activity you really enjoy that can distract you when those cravings pop up.

Pick a quit date that gives you time to prepare your strategies and enlist support from friends and co-workers.

Readiness is the bottom line for success in quitting. And readiness isn’t when someone else tells you it’s time to quit. Readiness is when YOU know it’s time to quit.

Don’t get discouraged if you’re not successful the first time you try. Many people quit and start back up again a number of times before they quit for good.

Just know that tobacco cravings last for just a few minutes, but the benefits of quitting last a lifetime!

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