As New Year’s resolutions go, deciding to stop smoking always ranks close to the top. There are some compelling health reasons to stop, if you can. You can reduce your chances of dying of heart disease, lung cancer and other smoking-related illnesses, thus prolonging your life.
If you smoke, you probably already know this. If you’ve already tried to give up smoking and failed, maybe more than once, you also know that it can be incredibly difficult to stop.
Well, if you’ve tried before and it didn’t stick, Einstein respiratory therapist Kristin Bauer, BS, RRT, CPFT, encourages you to try again.
“People may have a strong desire to quit and it can still be very difficult,” says Bauer, a smoking cessation counselor and facilitator at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery. "It’s an addiction. It’s chronic.”
Bauer moderates smoking cessation classes at Einstein Montgomery, and she knows from experience that many who attend have tried to stop before. “I hate telling them that it might take many times to quit,” she says, but at the same time, with expert support, encouragement, and the right tools, they can succeed.
If giving up smoking is your resolution for 2016, Bauer shares some thoughts on what you can do to increase your odds of success.
- Don’t keep cigarettes around. Potential quitters will sometimes keep a pack on hand, maybe tucked away in a bedside drawer or a glove compartment, “just in case.” However, says Bauer, “just in case” is not an option if you want to succeed. “You have to remove all cigarettes from your environment,” she says.
- Have a plan. An effective plan would include deciding a quit date within the next week or two. Give yourself time to mentally prepare. Decide, perhaps in consultation with your physician, options for quitting—such as nicotine patches or gum, or prescription medications. “If you prepare for it, it is usually more successful,” says Bauer.
- Plan for the long haul. Your risk of relapse is greatest in the first three months after you quit. If you are planning on using nicotine replacements, you should commit to them for at least three months.
- Don’t just “cut back.” Some people in class will just cut down on the number of cigarettes they smoke, says Bauer. “They think they can have just one cigarette, just to make the craving go away. Usually that’s the biggest fallacy. One cigarette a day usually turns into five or 10, and eventually a whole pack.” Bottom line: It’s all or nothing.
- Take a class! You can get expert advice and the support of your peers.
There are three six-week classes a year at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery (559 West Germantown Pike, East Norriton). The next class begins on January 5th, continuing each Tuesday night from 5:30 to 7 through February 9th. It’s free.
To register, call 484-622-QUIT (7848).
Registration is encouraged, but if you happen to drop by that night without registration, no worries.
“If someone just walks in, I’m not going to turn them away,” says Bauer. “You don’t want to turn away someone who is really serious about quitting and is asking for help.”