This is a reminder that it is possible to quit and to immediately start regaining your health.

Every day you choose to go without smoking you increase your life expectancy and lower your risk of cancer and heart disease.

Here are some (actually) helpful tips from real people who have quit, and facts from healthcare organizations who have done the research.

1. Identify what smoking means to you.

journal about what smoking means to you

Instead of giving smoking the identity of ‘a stress reliever’, ‘a social habit’, ‘something to calm nerves’, or even ‘something I cannot live without’ – identify smoking for what it really is: synonymous with death, disease/cancer, and slavery to addiction. The first step to success is to change what smoking means to you.

Encourage yourself with a positive frame of mind, that you can live a healthier life by choice and that there are plenty of healthy options for stress relief, social activities, as well as nerve calming techniques.

Every smoke-free day teaches you how to live without a cigarette. Smoking is a habit that weaves its way into your daily routine so deeply that everything feels awkward without it.

Activities that trigger your craving for a cigarette will arise, sometimes in places you don’t expect – but each time your let the craving pass without smoking, you will be untangling the tight thread of habit, and replacing it with a life no longer enslaved by nicotine addiction.

2. Be aware of the activities that trigger your desire to smoke.

break the habit of coffee and smoking

There are daily habits that will be hard to kick – like the cigarette with a cup of coffee. These are more apparent to most people, and can be recognized easily. Harder to recognize are the internal triggers that set off your desire to have a cigarette – stress signals, that can be caused by shame, tiredness, being overwhelmed, fear, and other factors.

Learning to recognize the situations that are triggering you emotionally will help you deal with those responses in a healthy way rather than turning to drugs.

Be on alert around the holidays, family gatherings, busy seasons at work, hectic weeks at school, or frustrations with the kids.

Once you go through a whole year, you will have been through every trigger, and taught yourself how to live without smoking. The longer you go without a cigarette the stronger you will become – mentally and physically.

3. Don’t do it alone.

dont quit smoking alone - do it with a partner or group

Start a support group with people in your family and circle of friends who are also smokers. Quitting with the people who usually smoke with you will make it easier to be successful.

Together you can replace the habit by doing other things together. If you usually stand outside together and catch up during quick smoke, stand outside and drink coffee together. If you usually take a lunch break together at work and have a smoke break, chat while you walk around the block, or share a healthy snack that will help curb cravings. Here is a list compiled by real quitters of 101 things to do instead.

4. Remind yourself of the risks.

children and the effects of smoking
Think of your children and remind yourself that second-hand smoke, no matter how infrequent is responsible for increased respiratory problems and infections in children including bronchitis, pneumonia. Give your children an atmosphere that they can develop properly.

5. Remind yourself of the cost.

the cost of smoking

Smokers pay higher premiums on all types of insurance because the risk of accidents – health related and others such as higher risk for car accidents and house fires. Also, the average cost of cigarettes for one month is $168, which over the span of 10 years is $20,000 – think of all the things you could do with that money!

What happens to your body when you quit?

The effects kick in immediately! Check out this timeline from healthline.com of what happens to your body as soon as you stop smoking:

In 20 minutes: your heart rate starts to drop back towards normal levels.

In 2 hours: your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal levels. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms begin. Be prepared for: intense cravings, anxiety, tension, frustration, drowsiness or trouble sleeping, and increased appetite.

In 12 hours: the carbon monoxide levels in your body decrease, and your blood oxygen levels return to their normal levels.

In 24 hours: your risk for heart attack begins to drop.

In 48 hours: you regain your smell and taste senses.

In 3 days: the nicotine is completely out of your system, and at this time your withdrawal symptoms will peak. People usually experience headaches, nausea, cramps and other emotional symptoms.

In 2-3 weeks: your lung function begins to improve, making it easier to breath. Withdrawl symptoms begin to dissipate around the 3 week mark for more people. This makes physical activity noticeably easier.

In 1-9 months: lungs start repairing, lowering your risk of infection, coughing and shortness of breath.

In 1 year: your risk of heart disease is lowered by 50 percent.

In 5 years: your risk for stroke lowered that of a nonsmoker

In 10 years: your risk for lung cancer drops to half that of a smoker. Your risk for other cancer is also decreased.

In 15 years: your risk of heart disease returns to the level of a nonsmoker.

Long term benefits: on average a nonsmoker’s life expectancy is 14 years longer than that of a smoker.

Resources to Help You Quit Now!

healthline.com
about.com
betobaccofree.gov
smokefree.gov
becomeanex.org
icanquit.com

MedlinePlus
American Lung Association

1-800-QUITNOW