<%-- Page Title--%> Health <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 140 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

January 30, 2004

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How to Quit Smoking

Smokers often say, "Don't tell me why to quit, tell me how." There is no one right way to quit, but there are some key elements in quitting smoking successfully. These 4 factors are crucial:
* Making the decision to quit
* Setting a quit date and choosing a quit plan
* Dealing with withdrawal
* Maintenance or staying quit

Making the Decision to Quit
The decision to quit smoking is one that only you can make. Others may want you to quit, but the real commitment must come from you.
Researchers have looked into how and why people stop smoking. They have some ideas, or models, of how this happens.
The Health Belief Model says that you will be more likely to stop smoking if you:
* Believe that you could get a smoking-related disease and this worries you
* Believe that you can make an honest attempt at quitting smoking
* Believe that the benefits of quitting outweigh the benefits of continuing to smoke
* Know of someone who has had health problems as a result of their smoking

Do any of these apply to you?
The Stages of Change Model identifies the stages that a person goes through in making a change in behaviour. Here are the stages as they apply to quitting smoking:
* Pre-contemplator - This is the smoker who is not thinking seriously about quitting right now.
* Contemplator - This is the smoker who is actively thinking about quitting but is not quite ready to make a serious attempt yet. This person may say, "Yes, I'm ready to quit, but the stress at work is too much, or I don't want to gain weight, or I'm not sure if I can do it."
* Preparation - Smokers in the preparation stage seriously intend to quit in the next month and often have tried to quit in the past 12 months. They usually have a plan.
* Action - This is the first 6 months when the smoker is actively quitting.
* Maintenance - This is the period of 6 months to 5 years after quitting when the ex-smoker is aware of the danger of relapse and take steps to avoid it.
Where do you fit in this model - If you are thinking about quitting, setting a date and deciding on a plan will move you into the preparation stage, the best place to start.

Quitting for Good
Remember the quotation by Mark Twain? Maybe you, too, have quit many times before. So you know that staying quit is the final, and most important, stage of the process. You can use the same methods to stay quit as you did to help you through withdrawal. Think ahead to those times when you may be tempted to smoke, and plan on how you will use alternatives and activities to cope with these situations.
More dangerous, perhaps, are the unexpected strong desires to smoke that occur, sometimes months (or even years) after you've quit. To get through these without relapse, try the following:
* Review your reasons for quitting and think of all the benefits to your health, your finances and your family.
Remind yourself that there is no such thing as just one cigarette? or even one puff.
* Ride out the desire to smoke. It will go away, but do not fool yourself into thinking you can have just one.
* What if you do smoke? The difference between a slip and a relapse is within your control. You can use the slip as an excuse to go back to smoking, or you can look at what went wrong and renew your commitment to staying off smoking for good.

How the Body Heals Over Time
Within 20 minutes of smoking that last cigarette, your body begins a series of healthful changes that continue for years. This deep healing is mostly invisible to the person experiencing it except for the gradual loss of a smoker's cough, an increase in energy, and the like.

This article was first published in YahooHealth.


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