To the editor:
On Thursday, Nov. 15, the United States will be celebrating the Great American Smoke-Out (sponsored by the American Cancer Society). If you are a smoker, this is a great time to think about quitting! Use this day to schedule an appointment with your doctor, to prepare yourself for a quit date or to think about why it is important for you to quit. Tobacco use is killing about 438,000 Americans and more than 25,000 New Yorkers a year. This is a good day to consider how to stop your tobacco use. Quitting is a hard but can be done, and with some help and advice, there is a greater chance of victory.
The first step in quitting is to plan for it by picking a quit date. Pick a day that you are ready to stop using tobacco. Things to think about before that day arrives are your daily routines and habits. What time of day do you have your first cigarette? Where are you when you smoke? What are you doing while smoking (having coffee, talking on phone, driving, etc.)? Why did you get the urge to smoke? Once you know these triggers, the next step is to learn how to change them. Prepare a kit to keep with you that has gum, candy, cinnamon sticks, toothpicks, relaxing music. Clean your house, car and work space. Throw away all tobacco products, lighters and ashtrays before your quit date. Tell your friends, family and co-workers that you are quitting. Make a list about why you want to quit and how quitting will make your life better.
Seek help and advice. There are medications to help you quit. By talking to your health care provider, he/she can help you find a medication that will work for you. They can also talk to you about what you might be feeling when you quit and how to deal with those feelings. For example, did you know that caffeine leaves the body of a smoker quicker than a non-smoker? So if you quit, you should drink half the caffeine that you drank while smoking.
It is with great hope that the Great American Smoke-Out will act as the first day to start the steps to have a life without tobacco use. The New York State Quitline (1-866-NY-Quits, 1866-697-8487) is also available to you. They are a free service for NYS residents and offers counseling and a two-week supply of free patches (some restrictions apply).