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There’s good news, though. The minute you stop smoking is the minute your lungs start to heal. When you quit, you start to breathe easier. You also lower your risk for lung cancer and other lung diseases.
The idea of quitting can seem daunting. Maybe you’ve tried before, but started smoking again. It’s okay. Many people try more than once. Being ready to quit can make all the difference. How can you channel your desire into success? Here are some tips to help you make it happen.
Tap into your inspiration. Remember all the reasons you want to quit. Maybe you want to feel healthier or have more years with your family and friends. Maybe you want to stop spending money on tobacco so you can save for a vacation. Whatever your reason, use it as motivation to get past the rough patches and boost your willpower.
Make a plan. It’s easier to quit when you plan for it rather than try to wing it. Start by picking a quit date and mark it on your calendar. Your quit date can be your birthday, the first day of spring or any day you choose. On that day, toss out your cigarettes, matches, lighters and ashtrays. Avoid all the places and things that make you feel like smoking.
Know how to fight cravings.Cravings will sneak up. In fact, they are what makes quitting so hard. Fortunately, cravings usually only last about five minutes. Still, you need to give your mind and body something else to do when they hit.
Call in backup. Let people know you are trying to quit. Many people hesitate letting others know they are trying to quit because due to fear of failure. Yet, family, friends and coworkers can offer encouragement and moral support every step of the way.
Talk with your doctor. There are quit aids and resources that can help you stop smoking. Your health plan can help cover the cost of medicine and counseling.
Depending on your health plan, you may even be eligible for a tobacco cessation program. To see if it’s included in your plan, call the number on your member ID card.
Looking for something self-paced? You may be able to take advantage of Quitting Tobacco — a free program on the Well onTarget® portal. You’ll find interactive lessons, tips and tools to help you kick start your quit and stay strong. Designed to help you understand the complex factors that swirl around nicotine use, you’ll learn how to make positive lifestyle changes that put smoking in the rear-view mirror. Sign up on wellontarget.com to take the first step.
The American Cancer Society hosts the Great American Smokeout® each year to help people who want to quit. Held on the third Thursday of November, the event encourages smokers to make a plan to quit. Many smokers even quit that day. Beyond the special event, you’ll find a host of tools, tried-and-true tips and a supportive community of others who understand what you’re going through.
Celebrate important milestones. Reward yourself for your first day, first week and first month without a cigarette. You can quit.
Originally published 11/16/2016; Revised 2018, 2021, 2023
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
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