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It's Never Too Late To Quit Smoking

Armen Hareyan's picture

Stop and Quit Smoking

There is never a bad time to stop smoking, but there is no time like the present to quit. November is Lung Cancer Awareness month, and with the holiday season approaching, quitting smoking is the best gift smokers can give themselves, their families and their friends.

According to the American Cancer Society, smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the United States, accounting for 440,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year. It also causes more than 80 percent of all lung cancers and increases the risk for many other types of cancer, including oral, throat pancreatic, uterine, bladder, and kidney cancers.

"Our most effective tool for treating lung cancer is to prevent it from ever happening," explains Bruce E. Johnson, MD, director of the Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Johnson emphasizes that it is never too late to quit. People who stop and remain a nonsmoker for at least 10 to 20 years can cut their risk of developing lung cancer in half. Even those who quit smoking in their 60s, 70s, and 80s benefit by reducing their risk of dying from a heart attack or from developing lung or head and neck cancer, says Johnson.

Johnson offers the following tips to help people to quit smoking:

First, commit to quit

  • Remember reason for wanting to quit: Family, children, personal health

Tell friends and family

  • Recruit the help, support and encouragement of family and friends

  • Invite other smokers to join in quitting

Plan the quit day
What is the method of quitting?

  • No cigarettes or nicotine replacement products

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  • Gradual withdrawal

  • Nicotine replacement and/or Anti-depressants

Avoid triggers

  • Get rid of cigarettes, lighters, matches and ashtrays

  • Avoid being around people who are smoking or in areas, such as bars, where there may be smokers

  • Instead of taking a smoking break at work, go for a walk; exercise is a good alternative and it decreases cravings

Following through: The Four "D's"

  • Deep breaths

  • Drink lots of water

  • Do something to avoid focusing on cigarette cravings

  • Delay reaching for a cigarette - the urge will pass

Quitting smoking is difficult because cigarettes are addictive; people typically have to try several times before they stop smoking permanently. "It's very common to have to do this multiple times," explains Johnson. "If you've stopped smoking and have relapsed, we encourage you to please make one more attempt."