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If you’ve ever smoked cigarettes and tried to quit, you know it’s not easy to kick the habit.
Smoking is not only dangerous to your health, but also deadly. Almost 1 in every 5 deaths in the US every year is from tobacco-related diseases. More people die from tobacco each year than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, HIV, homicide and illegal drugs combined. Despite what most of us know about the dangers of smoking, an estimated 46 million Americans, or 1 in 5 of all adults over age 18, still smoke.
When planning to quit, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of success:
Set a quit date, and don’t even take a puff after that date. Tell your family, friends, and coworkers that you plan to quit, and ask them to support your decision. Help yourself by throwing away all cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car and workplace. Clean your clothes and home. Do not let people smoke in your home.
Nicotine products - gum, patch or lozenges - can help you resist the urge to smoke. Ask your doctor about other medicines that can help, including nicotine nasal spray or inhaler or pills, such as bupropion SR. Most health insurance plans cover these medicines.
Talk to your doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider. Smokers say a doctor’s advice to quit is very important. About two-thirds of adult smokers are told by their doctors during a checkup to quit smoking. But you don’t have to wait for your doctor to start the conversation - you can ask for help!
Some may think these steps don’t work, but research shows that they really do help people quit. That’s not all. There are more sources of help and support than ever before.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the new healthcare legislation signed into law last March, people have better access to smoking cessation counseling. The act requires new health plans to offer this counseling and more wellness services without co-pays, co-insurance, or deductibles. If you are one of the 5.5 million smokers covered by Medicare, you can get more help than before. Even if you have not been diagnosed with an illness caused by tobacco, Medicare covers counseling sessions to help you quit.
There’s no better time to stop than today.
There are many other helpful resources. Smokefree.gov is a terrific resource, offering you real-time text messaging with a National Cancer Institute smoking cessation counselor. Counselors are also available from Monday through Friday at 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848).