5 Steps to Quit Smoking

Serena J. Stutzman, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, CPHQ
Friday April 01, 2016
Q: Why Should I Quit?
Quit for yourself, even if you’ve smoked for years. Smoking is addictive and one of the leading causes of preventable disease and death in the United States. Smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans each year, or about 1315 individuals every day.1 It also damages the heart, lungs, and blood vessels, and many cancers—including those of the lung, throat, bladder, mouth, larynx, esophagus, and stomach—have been linked to smoking. Smoking causes 90% of all lung cancers and 80% of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.2 It also increases the risk for cancer, even if it is not the direct cause.
 
Smoking also increases the risk for the following common diseases:1
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Stomach ulcer
  • Osteoporosis
Your risk for heart attack, stroke, and many cancers will be reduced greatly after 1 to 5 years when you’re smoke-free. Quitting also decreases your risk for lung diseases such as emphysema.
 
Quit for your family, especially your children. Family members exposed to secondhand smoke are at risk for developing cancer and heart disease. Secondhand smoke is responsible for 41,000 deaths each year.1 Babies and children exposed to secondhand smoke are at risk for asthma, ear infections, respiratory infections, and sudden infant death syndrome. Women who smoke during pregnancy increase the risk for ectopic pregnancy, preterm delivery, low birth weight, and birth defects.
 
Q: How Do I Quit?
It is difficult to quit smoking. You may have setbacks, but if you continue to try, you can do it. The key to successfully quitting is preparation.
 
Step 1: Commit to a Quit Date.
Choose a quit date within the next 2 weeks. Avoid choosing a day when you know you will be busy, stressed, or tempted to smoke such as a night out with friends who are smokers.
Identify your reasons for being smoke-free. Write down the reason(s) you are quitting (eg, to be healthier or to keep your family safer) and place it where you will see it every day.
 
Circle your quit date on your calendar and write it down where you will see it every day. This will remind you that quitting is your decision. Let your friends and family know that you are planning to quit. Explain to them how they can help, such as by not smoking in your presence or reminding you of why you are becoming smoke-free.
 


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