• SecondsCount Smoke-Free Success Plan

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    Millions of People Have Quit Smoking: You Can Too!

    Smoking is a primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease. That’s one important reason to quit. In addition, a 2010 report from the Surgeon General announced cigarettes are an addictive, deadly mix of more than 7,000 chemicals that damage your arteries, lungs, reproductive system, and your children’s health. Smoking also makes diabetes more difficult to manage, and it can cause sudden blood clots, heart attack, and stroke. It may sound overwhelming, but there is something you can do about it:  Quit today!

    When smokers quit -

    ·      The risk for a heart attack drops sharply after just 1 year.

    ·      Stroke risk can fall to about the same as a nonsmoker’s after just 2-5 years.

    ·      Risk for cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half after 5 years.

    ·      Risk for dying of lung cancer drops by half after 10 years. (2010 Surgeon General’s Highlight Sheet)

    Yes, quitting smoking is one of the most immediate and significant ways to improve your cardiovascular health, but it isn’t easy. In fact, it may be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, but it’s worth it. And there are four things that will greatly improve your chance for success:

    1. Know and Remind Yourself Often Why You Want to Quit
    2. Know Why Your Smoke
    3. Plan Your Success; and
    4. Don't Give Up!

    If you’ve tried to quit before, you know that a tool or technique that worked for someone else might not work for you. You started smoking and continued to smoke for personal reasons that are unique to you and your life circumstances. The checklists below will help you identify those reasons and develop a personalized plan for quitting that’s best for you. Some people do quit “cold turkey,” but most of us need a combination of strategies and supports to succeed—and that takes planning.

     1)    Know and Remind Yourself Often Why You Want to Quit

    Begin by picking from the checklist below the three most important reasons you want to quit. Highlight them, write them down, make them your mantra, keep them close at hand, and review them often. They will be your best defense against sneaky cravings.

    [Print the "Why You Want to Quit." checklist here. (PDF)]

    2)    Know Why You Smoke

    Have you ever thought about why you smoke? Maybe it’s just a habit or maybe it’s how you deal with stress. Whatever your reasons, knowing them will help you anticipate situations and circumstances that will make you want to smoke. If you can stop and think before you light your next cigarette, you can decide not to smoke and do something else instead.

    Use the chart below to check off your reasons for smoking. Next, jump to the worksheet under "Don't Give Up!" to pick strategies that you think will help you overcome that type of craving. For example, if smoking gives you something to do with your hands, you could knit a scarf instead. After you’ve tried that strategy, record its effectiveness so you’ll know if you need to find something more effective next time.

    [Print the "Know Why You Smoke." checklist here. (PDF)]

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    3)    Plan Your Success

    Give yourself every possible opportunity to succeed. Have a plan. Set a quit date and then gather tools, strategies, resources, and as many supportive professionals, friends, and family members as you can.

    Use the log below to plan and track everything you can do to prepare yourself for a reasonable date to quit smoking. The more you can prepare yourself in advance, the easier it will be to get through the first few days after you quit. It will also strengthen your resolve and confidence because you’ll know that you are as prepared as you can possibly be with a plan customized to your needs. But remember, you don’t have to do this alone. Ask for your help from someone who knows you and wants you to succeed.

    [Print the "Plan Your Success." checklist here. (PDF)]

    Return to where you were above.

    4)    Don’t Give Up

    Did we already say that it’s not easy? It’s not. Pat yourself on the back for every minute, hour, and day that you don’t smoke. If you do slip, go easy on yourself. Keep trying. Stick it out. Unfortunately, what works for one person at one time may not work for another. That’s why you can’t give up. You learn something new every time you try to quit. And, each time you try to quit increases your odds of quitting for good next time—so keep trying.

    The list below is your life preserver in that tough moment when you feel like you must have a cigarette. So, it’s very important to keep this list with you at all times. When a craving strikes, pick something from the list and try it. If that doesn’t work, try something else. The important thing is to wait it out. It will pass. It will get easier. Be creative, think of your own strategies that will help you the most and add them to the list.

    Use the other columns in the chart to keep track of the strategies that worked best in particular situations. Doing so will help you understand why you smoke, and what works best to stop you from smoking. Match the strategies below with your reasons for smoking.

    [Print the "Why You Want to Quit." checklist here. (PDF)]

    Return to where you were above.


    For more information on quitting smoking and resources to help, check with your local hospital or community health center and visit the following websites:

    World No Tobacco Day 

    Quit Tobacco—Make Everyone Proud

    Smokefree.gov or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  

    Consumer booklet that summarizes the 2010 Surgeon General's Report—How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease