Guest Column

Calling it quits in '96

stop smoking Pledging to kick the nicotine habit is among the most common New Year's resolutions in America.
   Here is some advice to help smokers call it quits in '96:
   1. Are you ready? Everyone around you wants you to quit smoking, but are you really ready to quit? Write down your reasons for wanting to quit and your fears about the quitting process. Prepare ways to overcome the barriers often associated with quitting, such as weight gain and stress. Think about healthy habits you can substitute in place of smoking, like drinking eight glasses of water a day or taking up exercise.
   2. It's a physical thing. Many smokers find it difficult to endure nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as cravings for tobacco, anxiety, headaches, fatigue, and irritability. Ask your doctor what you can do to ease the intensity of these effects.
   3. Get psyched. Decide when and how you want to quit. Set a realistic quit date; be sure to choose a week when you don't anticipate excessive pressure at work or at home. Give yourself time to determine how you can make quitting as easy as possible. Decide whether it's best for you to quit cold turkey or consider a program that can offer personalized support.
   4. Be prepared to miss it. Smoking is an addiction. Be aware that you are giving up something that your body and mind are used to and something that you enjoy on many levels. No one will tell you it's easy. So try to prepare yourself by creating a plan that will work best for you.
   5. Toss 'em. That's right, you have to throw out all of your cigarettes. You should also get rid of ashtrays, lighters, and matches, anything that makes smoking a cigarette possible. Make your home, car and office smoke-free, and do not allow family members, friends, or co-workers to smoke near you.
   6. Spread the word. Quitting is often made easier when family and friends lend their support. Not only can they help you resist your temptation to pick up a cigarette, they can also hold you accountable.
   7. Buddy-up. You don't have to do it alone. Seek out a friend who will try quitting with you. Together you can encourage one another.
   8. Resist the temptation. Overcoming your tobacco cravings may seem impossible at times. Prepare for your urges to smoke: keep gum on hand, go for a walk, exercise, figure out the best way to distract yourself when you crave a cigarette. Your urges will not go on forever. Time them and see how long they last and how frequently they occur each day.
   9. One day at a time. Once you've decided to quit, set short-term goals. If you can make it through the first week, your chances of remaining smoke-free increase substantially.
   10. Reward yourself. As you set your goal, decide on a reward to go with it. When you wake up in the morning, choose a reward to use as an incentive to make it through that day without smoking. Or, every time you think about having a cigarette, take a dollar and put it aside. At the end of the smoke-free day or week, treat yourself.
   If at first you don't succeed, try, try again! Most smokers try to quit several times before they succeed.
   Even if you have smoked for a long time, remember, your chances of having a heart attack decrease just 24 hours after becoming smoke-free.

This stop-smoking help was submitted by Hoechst Marion Roussel, makers of Nicoderm.