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It’s Time to Quit Smoking

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Dr. Ernest Levister, Jr.
Dear Dr. Levister: I’m kind of tied of people berating smokers for exercising their right to light up. It is after all still legal.  Wouldn’t it be easier if there were programs that “really” help people quit? J.W.

Dear J.W.: Point well taken as the smoking debate relates to the success of programs aimed at helping people quit. But when it comes to side-smoke and passing the risk on to children, you’re crossing the line.

As for stop smoking programs, despite the best efforts of medical research, there are still few if any ‘surefire’ programs that guarantee smoking cessation.

My best advice is: ‘Don’t Start’.

Ask President Obama, he has being trying to kick the habit since college. He picked up his first cigarette as a teenager. Regularly he faces public humiliation and pressure from his wife to stop. That said there is no excuse for not trying to quit. You know you need to stop smoking.  Your risk for just about every health problem there is – cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s – is increased if you smoke.

Study after study shows that the average life expectancy of a smoker is ten years shorter than the average non-smoker. Okay so you know you need to stop, but how?

Don’t put it off. People who plan to quit and schedule it for a “more convenient time” have a much more difficult time breaking the habit. People who quit the moment they decide to quit have better long term success.  Get rid of your cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays including in your auto and at your work station.

Take away all reminders that you smoke.

Kill the secret. Okay like Mr. Obama, you occasionally fall off the wagon. Admit you messed up and jump back on. Get the support of family, friends and coworkers.  Take healthy breaks. Instead of taking a break to smoke outside for example, take a walk around the block. Get a bottle of water or juice. Read a magazine, text a friend ask them for a little encouragement.

If you find you just can’t break the habit no matter how many times you try, talk with your doctor.

There are medicines that can help.

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