How to quit the smoking habit

Erin Sinisgalli, Director of Community Health Programs at St. Peter’s Health Partners, talks about the risks of smoking and what to do to quit for good.

Where should I begin, with the start of picking up a smoke or the end when I ultimately crushed out my last cigarette? Face it. Quitting a habit that has been a part of you for over 20 years is hard to break.

Peer pressure and the fact that you want to look cool among your friends are some of the reasons for picking up a habit whether good or bad. Before entering the U.S. Army, I had never experienced the pressures and stress of a full-time job, especially one that taxed you as the military does.

It was the start of the Paragon Trail, Fort Dix’s obstacle course that began a long-term relationship with cigarettes. My Army buddies asked me if I wanted one, and to calm my fears, I decided to try it.

Smoking has always been a part of family life. My mother smoked. My dad smoked. My relatives smoked. When it plays such a part of your life for so long, it is hard to give smoking up.

There are so many reasons to pick up smoking, but there are many other reasons to give them up. Smoking causes cancer, breathing problems like COPD, heart disease, and if you are a woman, complications during pregnancy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults exposed to second-hand smoke may experience lung disease, strokes, and heart disease, or may succumb to cancer. Children and infants exposed to second-hand smoking may suffer from asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections, or sudden infant death syndrome.

As smokers, we don’t necessarily think of the long-term effects of smoking for ourselves and our loved ones. We may say we are one of the lucky ones who will not succumb to death and disease through smoking. Or we may put it off when we are ready which prolongs the effects of smoking.

After years of smoking up to three packs of cigarettes a day, I finally concluded this habit was something I should break. When I was living in an apartment, the smoke filled the room and seeped into the adjacent apartment. I had trouble breathing, especially in the morning when I first woke up. It was time to quit.

There are several ways to help you quit.


·         Nicotine Gum

·         Nicotine Patches
·         Nicotine Lozenges
·         Inhalers and nasal sprays
·         Zyban and Chantix

Counseling and apps on your smartphone and computer may also work for you.

I tried several of those methods. I even tried hypnosis. They didn’t work for me, but they may for you. I decided to quit cold turkey. I set the date for Father’s Day in honor of my dad who quit the habit years before. On Father’s Day, 2005, I finally crushed out my last cigarette.

The American Lung Association suggests there are many
health benefits from quitting besides reducing the chances of getting cancer and heart disease.

Since my quit date, although I gained some weight, I am a healthier person overall. I breathe easier. Food tastes better. I have better relationships with my family and friends. It is never too late to quit a bad habit. Your lungs and heart will ‘thank you’ for it.

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