16 million people are smokers in the United States, making smoking the leading preventable cause of death.
Fortunately, many people are recognizing the harm that smoking does to their health, and are finding ways to quit that work for them.
If you’re considering quitting this year, read on to learn the best ways to quit smoking in 2019.
Ready? Let’s get started.
Why Quit Smoking?
While you’re probably aware of some of the main reasons to quit smoking, like saving money, avoiding lung disease, and more. But there are some that you may not be aware of. The more determined you are to quit, and the more reasons you have, the higher your chances of success.
Here are some top reasons to quit smoking:
Smoking Causes Mental Decline
When you’re young and healthy, it’s easy to ignore the idea of aging. But when you do become elderly, you’re five times more likely to face mental decline if you smoke compared to if you don’t.
You’re also more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Smokers Smell Like Smoke
It may seem obvious, but if you smoke, you’ll constantly smell like cigarette smoke. And this isn’t a smell most people enjoy.
While you may eventually not notice the smell, you’ll be carrying the smell of smoke in your hair, in your mouth, and on your clothes. Smokers who are dating will often find that this smell is a turn-off for the opposite sex.
Loss of Taste and Smell
Not only will you smell like an ashtray if you’re a smoker, but you won’t be able to smell it- since smoking dulls your senses. This is particularly true for taste and smell, which are intrinsically linked.
If you quit smoking, you’ll often find that all of a sudden you can taste foods much more intensely than you could while you were smoking.
Even if you ignore all the ways smoking impacts your health (more on those later), you’ll see your habit on your face when you look in the mirror. Your skin will become leathery, and you can expect to see deep wrinkling- especially around your mouth.
Smoking speeds up the aging process since it deprives your skin of oxygen as your blood vessels constrict. That means blood can’t get to your organs (and skin) as easily.
Non-smokers are well aware of the impact of passive smoking on their own health. This means that smokers are increasingly becoming marginalized, as new laws make it more difficult to smoke in public places.
Bet you didn’t see this one coming. But smoking greatly increases the chance of men becoming impotent since it affects the blood vessels.
You’re probably well aware of the increased risk of lung disease, throat and mouth cancers, and other diseases associated with smoking. But did you know that you’re also more likely to get colds and the flu?
We have tiny hairs in our respiratory tract which protect us from sicknesses and infections going around. These are called cilia, and they push them bacteria and viruses away from our lungs.
When you smoke, you’re paralyzing your cilia. This is one of the big reasons why many smokers seem to be constantly sick.
The Best Ways to Quit Smoking
Convinced that quitting smoking is a good idea? Great. Here are the best ways to successfully quit this year:
1. Nicotine Replacement Therapy
It’s the nicotine in cigarettes that makes them so addictive. That’s why it’s often so difficult to quit cold turkey.
Consider talking to your doctor about nicotine replacement therapy. There are a number of options available, so you’re likely to find one that suits you. If you’re a heavy smoker, you may find it best to start with a prescription product- nicotine in an inhaler or nasal spray.
There are over-the-counter patches which contain nicotine, including lozenges, gum, and patches. These are great for overcoming sudden, intense cravings. You can also get medication created specifically for smokers who want to quit. These include Chantix and Zyban, and while they don’t contain nicotine, they’re safe to use with over-the-counter solutions.
Hyptnomism is becoming more and more popular as a method for people to quit bad habits such as overeating, self-sabotage, and of course, smoking.
Hypnosis is an altered state of awareness. While there’s a lot of debate around how hypnosis works, many people believe that this altered state allows you to more easily listen to suggestions.
There’s no doubt that withdrawal from nicotine is uncomfortable. But much of the reason people continue to smoke is due to the mental addiction. It’s your subconscious that triggers your craving for a cigarette.
This mental battle is also why some people find it so difficult to quit- even when using nicotine replacement therapies. While these therapies tackle the physical cravings, the mental, subconscious cravings are still there.
Hypnotherapists will often replace the subconscious cravings for cigarettes with a more positive suggestion. They can also completely reframe the idea of smoking. For example, some hypnotherapists may suggest that smoking is like inhaling exhaust, the smoke smells like burning plastic, or your mouth will end up as dry as a desert.
Often, hypnotherapy works best when combined with other non-smoking techniques. One study found that of the smokers who used hypnosis to quit, 50% were still smoke-free at 26 weeks. This is compared to less than 16% of the NRT group. Patients who combined both of these also had a 50% success rate.
You’ve probably seen people vaping, but did you know it’s a great way to help you quit smoking?
One study found that 18% of smokers that used vaping as part of their plan to quit had stopped smoking after a year, compared to 10% of those who used NRT.
If you’re going to use vaping, consider how much nicotine you’re taking in, and aim to gradually reduce this amount. You can get vaping equipment and JUUL pods online, including everything you need to get started.
While studies may show an increase in the likelihood that you’ll quit smoking, many people believe the accessibility of vaping makes it more likely that you’ll simply switch habits. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a long-term plan to quit nicotine for good.
4. Trigger Avoidance
We all have certain situations that trigger our bad habits. For people who tend to drink too much, this is often a party where alcohol is present. For ex-smokers, being around people who are currently smoking can do it.
You may find yourself reaching for a cigarette whenever you have a drink in your hand, or after a particularly difficult day at work.
The best thing you can do is avoid the behaviors and activities that trigger you into reaching for a cigarette- at least in the short-term when you’re finding it the most difficult.
Make a list of the times where you’re most at risk of smoking. That way, you can plan for them and be prepared. It could be that you like to smoke while driving, using the phone, right after a meal, while drinking coffee, or at social events. Be prepared for these situations with gum or something else to distract yourself.
5. Behavioral Therapy
This can be an excellent way to increase your chances of successful quitting. It’s particularly successful when combined with one or more of the above tips.
Behavioral therapy is often used for people who have a mental health disorder, and it involves talking with a professional therapist.
You’ll work with your therapist, who’ll guide you through the quitting process. This can be hugely helpful, especially if you have friends who smoke. Some people are hesitant to tell people they’re quitting in case they fail. When you’re having behavioral therapy, you have an understanding cheerleader in your corner.
You and your therapist will work together to create a detailed plan to help you quit. This may take longer than quitting cold turkey. But since a behavioral therapist is a professional and has done this many times before, your chances of successfully quitting are much higher.
There are also other options for professional support. Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances around, so there’s no shame in asking for help. Many states have free helplines for smokers, which can allow you to access resources and support over the phone. Your doctor may also be able to help you with these types of resources.
There are also thousands of websites and forums devoted to a smoke-free life. That means that even if you’re quitting alone, there are many other people going through it with you.
The above are some of the best ways to quit smoking. But it’s important to remember that even if you’re not successful with your first attempt to quit smoking, the more times you try, the higher your likelihood of success.
Even if you find yourself reaching for a cigarette, don’t finish the packet, simply move on.
Looking for some other great posts to help improve your life? Check out some of our articles today.