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Quit Smoking. Photo: WebMB

Why is quitting so hard?

We all know the health risks of smoking, but that doesn’t make it any easier to kick the habit. Whether you’re an occasional teen smoker or a lifetime pack-a-day smoker, quitting can be really tough.

Smoking tobacco is both a physical addiction and a psychological habit. The nicotine from cigarettes provides a temporary—and addictive—high. Eliminating that regular fix of nicotine causes your body to experience physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Because of nicotine’s “feel good” effect on the brain, you may turn to cigarettes as a quick and reliable way to boost your outlook, relieve stress, and unwind. Smoking can also be a way of coping with depression, anxiety, or even boredom. Quitting means finding different, healthier ways to cope with those feelings.

Smoking is also ingrained as a daily ritual. It may be an automatic response for you to smoke a cigarette with your morning coffee, while taking a break at work or school, or on your commute home at the end of a hectic day. Or maybe your friends, family, or colleagues smoke, and it’s become part of the way you relate with them.

To successfully stop smoking, you’ll need to address both the addiction and the habits and routines that go along with it. But it can be done. With the right support and quit plan, any smoker can kick the addiction—even if you’ve tried and failed multiple times before, as cited by Help Guide.

How to quit smoking

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How to quit Smoking. Photo: Freepik

The thought of quitting smoking can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Before you quit, make a plan. Contrary to popular belief, studies have found that quitting cold turkey is not the most effective route.

Instead, go slow. Start by talking to your doctor. They can point you in the direction of free resources available to quit and help you build a plan to stop smoking for good.

Other steps you can take to quit smoking include:

Throwing out your ash trays, cigarettes and lighters: Doing this can help you avoid temptation. You can also go one step further and ask friends and family members not to smoke around you.

Replace your craving: When cravings strike, chew gum, drink water or go for a walk. Getting your mind off cravings can help you move past them.

Join a smoking cessation support group: Build a support network of folks who are all trying to quit smoking, too. These support groups can boost your confidence and help you see you aren’t alone in quitting. If you can’t find a local support group, you can find virtual support groups online (some which even correspond through text messaging).

Use nicotine replacement therapies: There are many devices available for purchase (including nicotine patches, gum and inhalers) to help step you down from nicotine gently.

Try medication: If you need extra support to quit, your doctor may recommend prescription medications that can help.

Sign up for health coaching: A health coach can help you work through the physical and emotional effects of quitting smoking with personalized sessions.

Most importantly, don’t give up: You may have a few stops and starts along the way, especially if you’ve smoked for a long time. That’s okay. Be gentle with yourself and keep trying until you’re ready to quit, according to Geisinger.

Tips for parents of teens who smoke or vape

Find out why your teen is smoking or vaping; they may want to be accepted by their peers or be seeking attention from you. Rather than making threats or ultimatums, talk about what changes can be made in their life to help them stop smoking.

If your child agrees to quit, be patient and supportive as they go through the process.

Set a good example by not smoking yourself. Parents who smoke are more likely to have kids who smoke.

Know if your kids have friends that smoke or vape. Talk with them about how to refuse a cigarette or e-cigarette.

Explain the health dangers and the unpleasant side effects smoking can have on their appearance (such as bad breath, discolored teeth and nails).

Establish a smoke-free policy in your home. Don’t allow anyone to smoke or vape indoors at any time.

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