(BPT) - In 1964, when the Surgeon General first warned the public about the dangers of smoking cigarettes, 42 percent of adults in the United States smoked, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Today, about 15 percent of adults smoke cigarettes. The progress made in the last 50 years to reduce cigarette smoking is remarkable, but the toll it takes on Americans is still staggering. More than 480,000 deaths are caused every year from cigarette smoking, and 16 million people live with a disease or illness caused by smoking. The good news is that most smokers want to quit and there are now more former cigarette smokers than current smokers.
If you’re a smoker and trying to quit, inspiration and education can help you succeed.
Here’s a bit of both, courtesy of the CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers(TM) campaign:
1. Quitting can help protect your children and loved ones.
Quitting smoking will not only help you reduce the risk for health complications that it causes, but also will protect your children and loved ones. There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure. Secondhand smoke is a known cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, respiratory infections, ear infections, and asthma attacks in infants and children. Avoiding situations that trigger the urge to smoke can help you quit. If the hours between dinner and bedtime are when you experience craving, you could occupy your mind by playing, reading, studying, or just hanging out with your kids. Ask your kids to write you an inspirational letter. When you’re at work and feel the urge for a cigarette, reread the letter.
2. A smoke-free home equals healthier pets.
Studies have found that secondhand smoke can be harmful to pets. Cats, dogs, and birds in smoking households are at greater risk of health problems like cancer. Your pet will also miss you and mourn if smoking takes your health and life. When you feel the urge to smoke, you could spend some quality time with your pet instead. Take your dog for a smoke-free walk or play with your cat. Keep a picture of your pet on your desk at work. When you feel a craving, focus on the photo and think of how quitting will benefit your best friend.
3. Support from your partner can help you stay on track.
If your partner is a nonsmoker, you might be aware of the negative effect smoking can have on relationships. Smoking can be a relationship stressor. Smokers are more successful in quitting when they have their partner’s support, even if both partners are smokers. If one partner quits, the other is more likely to do so as well. Enlist your partner’s support in your efforts to quit. Ask for help fighting cravings, staying on track with your strategies, and celebrating your successes.
4. Quitting is a meaningful memorial.
Former smoker Tiffany Roberson was just 16 years old when her mom, a smoker, died of lung cancer. Children of smokers are more likely to smoke themselves, and many adult smokers have lost a parent to smoking-related illness like lung cancer and heart disease. If you’ve lost a loved one to smoking, as a meaningful memorial, live a full and smoke-free life. Roberson drew on her mother’s memory to help her quit smoking.