Keep trying, and trying, and trying: The Great American Smokeout was November 15th, but you can quit anytime
By Kimberly A. Kelly, B.A., CHEC
You may have noticed the billboard campaign, sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, encouraging people to quit smoking. “It took me 9 times to quit,” says the message on one, effectively capturing the fact that the journey to becoming a non-smoker is often not easy.
It can take many frustrating attempts before achieving success. And that’s OK. No matter how many times you’ve tried to quit smoking, don’t give up. Keep trying, and trying, and trying because your health and life depend on finally quitting for good.
In fact, we know a lot of things about the process, and there’s plenty of resources available for help. But above all, we understand that nicotine addiction can have a relentless hold on people, despite the health risks associated with smoking. There’s no doubt about it, quitting is hard, perhaps the hardest thing you will ever do in your life. Even individuals who have smoked for 10, 20, or 30 years or longer still manage to finally quit - and you can be one of them.
You don’t have to go it alone. At the end of this column is a list of websites with excellent advice and resources that can help you along the way. Take advantage of decades of research and the experiences of millions of people who finally found the right path toward success.
While quitting cold turkey works for some, it’s not the answer for most. Today, people trying to quit can find help with over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy, prescription medicine ordered by their physician, and even hypnosis. These therapies, combined with coaching, support and strong motivation to become a non-smoker, can make this attempt the one that finally works. It doesn’t matter if this is your first time trying or your 15th. Just keep trying.
Because smoking is both a strong addiction and a daily habit, experts advise making a careful plan before quitting. Envision all of the times that a cigarette is part of your day and figure out an alternative activity. Change up your routine and have your first cup of coffee at work. Make plans with people who don’t smoke. Exercise more. Keep sending positive messages to yourself: “I can do this.” Use the patch or lozenge. Call the quit line for support and coaching. Whatever works for you, do it.
And above all, do it for yourself. Research proves that quitting smoking for your children or grandchildren – while effective for some – is not as effective as quitting for you. In fact, we often put ourselves and our health far down the list of things we do every day that matter. We are hard-wired to care for others. Quitting smoking requires a fierce commitment to you, your health, and a better future. Be prepared to finally put yourself first.
So, is today the day? Don’t be discouraged by past failures. Today may be the day you are finally ready to quit cigarettes for good. Put a lot of effort into your plan. Think about how you will handle the minutes, hours and days ahead. Take a careful look at these resources and find the tips and advice that appeal to you. Good luck and keep trying until you are successful!
Massachusetts Quit Line: makesmokinghistory.org/
Medicaid Fallon Patients: Free counseling by phone or text. Call us at 1-508-368-9540 or 1-888-807-2908. You can also email QuitToWin@fallonhealth.org for more information.
FDA Approved Quit Smoking Devices: fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm198176.htm
Fairview Hospital Tobacco Treatment Services: berkshirehealthsystems.org/quitnowFairview
Kimberly A. Kelly, B.A., CHEC is Director of Community Health & Public Health Initiatives at Berkshire Health Systems.