February is American Heart Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is a leading cause of heart disease.
Smoking can lead to the narrowing of blood vessels and high blood pressure and quitting smoking greatly improves heart health. So, make a resolution for a healthier life for you and your family. If you’re a smoker, quitting is the most important step you can take to protect your health, decreasing the risk of lung disease, cancer, and even early death.
If you want to quit and tried in the past, don’t give up. It often takes several tries before you can quit for good. However, with planning and support, you can become tobacco-free.
The Massachusetts Smokers’ Helpline offers both telephone and online support 24 hours a day, seven days a week (with some holiday exceptions) by calling 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) or through KeepTryingMA.org. Online support includes quit planning tools and chatting with others who are trying to quit. Free nicotine patches, gum and lozenges are available to eligible users. The combination of coaching and quit-smoking medication can make you nearly three times as likely to quit for good!
Quitting smoking can be hard—here are five ways to make it easier:
1. Set a quit date. Choose a quit day this month. Give yourself about two weeks to prepare.
2. Tell your family and friends you plan to quit. Share your quit date with important people and ask for their support. Daily encouragement and planned activities can help you stay on track.
3. Anticipate and plan for challenges. The urge to smoke is short—usually only three to five minutes. Those moments can feel intense. Before your quit date, write down healthy ways to cope with cravings so you can get past them.
Healthy choices include:
· Drinking water
· Taking a walk
· Calling or texting a friend
4. Remove cigarettes and other tobacco from your daily routine. Throw away your cigarettes, lighters, and ashtrays. Clean your car and home. Old cigarette odors can cause cravings.
5. Talk to your doctor about quit-smoking medications. Over-the-counter or prescription medicines can help you quit for good; your quit coach and pharmacist can provide guidance.
For more information, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit KeepTryingMA.org.
Make the choice to quit today, making February, American Hearth Month, the beginning to a smoke-free and healthier you!
Edgar Duran Elmudesi, MSW
Metro Boston Tobacco-Free Community Partnership