With a respiratory virus pandemic surging through the world’s populations right now, the goals of the Great American Smokeout are as important and timely as they’ve ever been.
The COVID-19 virus can strike smokers and those with impaired lung functions especially hard, so the present is absolutely an important time to quit or to help your loved ones, colleagues, or patients with their quitting journey. The World Health Organization (WHO) offered this statement on its website, “Smoking any kind of tobacco reduces lung capacity and increases the risk of many respiratory infections and can increase the severity of respiratory diseases.”
Whether you’re a smoker or are just interested in how to help someone you know who is quitting, giving up smoking is one of the most important steps to committing to a healthy lifestyle. In addition to reducing the risk of cancer that is inherent with smoking, those who quit are able to reap the many benefits of giving up smoking–from better heart health to saving money on nicotine products.
Here’s what you need to know about quitting smoking.
“It’s Not Easy” Is an Understatement
Those who have quit say it’s one of the hardest things they have ever had to do. Smoking is physically addictive, and it’s also emotionally addictive. People who are trying to quit are breaking their body’s real craving for a substance that it depends on. But they are also breaking an ingrained habit that may have been used to fill a void whether it is to soothe, energize, distract, or relax. Tackling both of those at the same time is challenging, but millions of people have proven it can be done.
If You’re Trying to Quit
Talk to people who have quit to find what worked for them and then explore every option. Look at your habits so you can identify your triggers and be ready to deal with them. There are support groups, medications, and resources that can help—the WHO even has an AI approach to quitting. Find someone who can help motivate you and keep you going when it’s hard—whether that’s a friend, loved one, or a professional. Accept that quitting smoking is going to be as difficult physically as it is psychologically. You’re giving up something that is part of your daily routine.
If You’re Trying to Help Someone Quit
The decision to quit is a deeply personal one. You can offer support and distraction and can be a buddy, but it’s not up to you whether the person you’re supporting succeeds. If you’re trying to help someone who is quitting, talk about what will aid them the most. Do they want you to check in with them at certain times when the urge to smoke might be strongest (when they wake up, during work breaks, after meals) or do they want to be the one to reach out? Would it help if you set up times to go for a short walk or could find a few fidgets to keep their hands busy? Remember, if they don’t succeed the first time they try to quit, they aren’t alone. It takes most smokers more than one try to quit for good.
Taking the first step toward quitting is significant. Stating your intentions is half the battle—then it’s finding and following the best process to success. Join others during the Great American Smokeout and start your path to a healthier life.
Almost every nurse has met that one stubborn patient, family member, or friend who would have great health, except that they’re among the 1.1 billion people in the world who smoke cigarettes. And, according to some studies in just the US alone, nurses can be the among most tobacco-vulnerable of all health professionals.
It’s one of the toughest habits to quit, but once you’ve quit, it’s worth the struggle. After being smoke-free for over 300 days myself, I’m enjoying the freedom that my tobaccoless life has to offer. I’ve never looked back for longer than a few seconds, and each time I think back to when I smoked, I either shudder or feel a refreshing wave of gratitude for having quit.
These resources below helped me, and they helped some of my treasured friends and family members who have also experienced a smoking habit.
#1: Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Quit Smoking
This classic book has helped millions of people kick their nicotine addiction to the curb. The book can be purchased on Amazon and at most any bookstore, and it’s also available as a PDF download.
The book itself is inexpensive, and the community that has gathered around the book has generated a wellspring of resources, motivation, and peer-to-peer support.
#2: Livestrong: MyQuit Coach
For the data-driven quitter, this app provides visualizations, graphs, and statistics that can help keep track of progress.
The app tracks money saved, consecutive days quit, and allows users to check in with a few simple buttons. If a craving happens, acknowledging the craving by clicking a button in the app can help quell the feeling.
If anyone ever needed just one more reason to quit smoking, this site has thousands of reasons. Though this site has an old-fashioned design, it’s a classic source of information, hearkening back to when the internet was first being used to expose the health disasters that could be caused by smoking. Right off the bat, on the first page, there’s over a hundred articles listed that could motivate even a long-time smoker to think twice.
There you have it – the books, website, and app above were the key forces that assisted me in quitting. It’s getting easier to quit smoking as well, since more and more research emerges each year about the dangers of smoking.
Lately, lawmakers in the US have demanded that most public spaces become a healthier, more smoke-free terrain. Smoking in public and indoors no longer happens, and nationwide stores like CVS have pulled their tobacco products from the shelves. Even though restaurants and stores like CVS could profit almost endlessly from the sale and support of tobacco, it’s been removed from the roster.
Thanks again for reading. If you have a favorite book, website, or video that’s helped you or a loved one quit smoking, feel free to share it in the comments. Every little bit helps.
As the front line in health care, nurses know firsthand the dangers of smoking, but that doesn’t always mean they don’t do it.
In comparison to other bad health habits, the dangers of smoking are hard to ignore. According to the American Lung Association (ALA) smoking increases your risk of lung and other cancers, emphysema, chronic lung disease, and stroke, not to mention the general physical changes that result from inhaling the myriad dangerous chemicals in cigarette smoke.
But many nurses, like other smokers, started smoking when they were young – often long before nursing school. Once hooked, they found it hard to quit. The ALA statistics say that 86% of adults who ever smoked reported starting before the age of 21. And with so many smokers relying on cigarettes as a way to cope with stress, entering the high-stress career of nursing can make quitting that much more daunting.
But with the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) annual Great American Smokeout just around the corner on November 21, this is a great time to quit. Luckily you don’t have to go it alone, and you shouldn’t feel bad if it takes several tries before you finally quit for good.
Currently, smokers who want to quit their nicotine addiction have several resources available. Of course you can go cold turkey if you think that method will work best for you, but there are other things you can try as well. Various combinations of hypnotherapy, smoking cessation classes, the patch, nicotine gum, prescription medication like Zyban or Chantix, or support groups can make your attempt more likely to succeed. Check out the ACS Guide to Quitting for ideas and tips on how to quit for good.
But for nurses, reducing stress is also an important part of successfully quitting. Recognize that this is a big challenge and treat yourself kindly. Don’t berate yourself if you cave in and have a cigarette after a particularly stressful day. Just be sure to start right over. Don’t let one cigarette turn into 10.
It helps to remember that smoking is both a physical and a mental addiction and requires a big overhaul of lots of familiar routines and habits, many of them comforting to you (even if they are unhealthy!). You will probably feel sad, frustrated, or angry that your old ways of relieving stress are gone and need to be replaced with unfamiliar habits. And all of this happens while you are trying to physically wean off cigarettes! No wonder why so many ex-smokers say it is the hardest thing they have ever done.
But you can do it. Nurses who smoke often struggle with cautioning their patients about smoking. How can they be a good health role model when they smoke? How can they tell their patients to do as they say, not as they do? But trying to quit, and then successfully quitting, also gives you a unique perspective to help your patients who are trying to do the same thing. You know how hard it is because you have been there.
Once you quit, or even if you struggle, your patients will relate to what you are going through and may even pay more attention to your advice. Share with them what worked and don’t be afraid to say it took five attempts before you got it right. Your struggle likely mirrors their own and they will appreciate your honesty. And once you have quit, you won’t want to let them down!
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