New Year: An Opportunity to Try to Quit Smoking
Wilmot Cancer Center Offers On-Line Chat for Smokers
Tuesday, December 23, 2003
The risks of smoking and the benefits of quitting extend across the life span. People who quit smoking at all ages live longer, healthier lives.
As cigarette smokers prepare for a New Year’s quit attempt, smoking cessation experts at the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center are offering help through an on-line chat from 4 to 6 p.m., Monday, Jan. 5th.
Smokers can get tips and support from former smokers by logging onto www.p50plus.org.
Hamlin’s Nancy Pierce understands the anxiety that smokers preparing to quit feel right now. She knows how hard it is to end the addiction and how satisfying it is to beat it.
“I feel really good being smoke free,” says Pierce, 53. “It was hard, but it’s worth it.”
She smoked for many years and a serious bout of bronchitis motivated her to quit. “I was so sick that I was scared,” Pierce says. “I didn’t even want to smoke anymore.”
Pierce sought guidance from the Smoking Research Program at the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center and enrolled in Project 50+, a special cessation program for older smokers. The telephone support Pierce received, in combination with tips from others, helped her quit, for nearly a year now.
Project 50+ is a special program and study for older smokers who want to quit. It’s one of several support and education programs for smokers who want to stop.
“There is often a perception that once you reach a certain age it really doesn’t matter if you quit, but that’s not true,” says Deborah Ossip-Klein, Ph.D., director of the Smoking Research Program. “The risks of smoking and the benefits of quitting extend across the life span. People who quit smoking at all ages live longer, healthier lives.”
Ossip-Klein notes that during any given one-year period, about one-third of all smokers try to quit but fewer than 10 percent succeed. However, if you track smokers over their lifetime, more than 50 percent do ultimately succeed.
“Each quit attempt provides the smoker with practice that will lead to success. The message is to try again until you succeed,” says Ossip-Klein.
Former smokers, like Pierce, offer these tips for quitting smoking:
Remove all ashtrays, lighters, matches and cigarettes from the house. Just seeing them can make you want to smoke.
- Start eating hard candy to keep your mouth busy. Consider using cinnamon candies, because it’s “burning” sensation mimics the feeling of smoking and kills the craving.
- Drink a lot of water. It helps keep you feeling “full,” and prevents you from overeating and gaining weight. It also helps “cleanse” your body of the toxins from years of smoking.
- Chew carrots and celery sticks because they’re filling and healthy. They also “feel” like cigarettes in your hand.
- Practice breathing deeply when craving a cigarette. Smoking involves taking long deep breaths, but now it’ll be fresh air rather than chemicals entering your lungs.
- Consider using nicotine replacements – gum, patch or Zyban – to help you quit.
- Play with a rubber band or paper clip to keep you hands busy when you have a craving for a cigarette. Try doodling.
- Take a walk whenever you want a cigarette. The fresh air is good for you and this can help change your habit.
- Remember why you want to quit. If it’s for your family or grandchildren keep their pictures nearby.
- Seek support from community resources, former smokers or family members who want you to be successful.
Smokers can call (585) 273-3871, or (toll free) 1-888-222-3993 for Project 50+ or go to p50plus.org. Others can call the New York State Smokers Quitline at 1-888-609-6292.
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