July 23, 2020
7 Tips to Quit Smoking and Reduce Lung Cancer Risk
In the United States, lung cancer is the deadliest cancer, with cigarette smoking being the number one risk factor. In fact, about 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths are directly related to smoking according to the CDC. However, the good news is that even after a lifetime of smoking, you can substantially reduce your risk of getting lung cancer if you stop smoking now. Keep reading to learn more about some practical tips that can help you quit smoking, while also reducing your risk of developing lung cancer.
7 Practical Steps to Take for Quitting Smoking
- Reduce your use of tobacco in stages
- Get rid of any smoking temptations
- Give your home a good cleaning
- Develop healthier habits
- Pay attention to smoking triggers
- Lean on others for support
- Treat yourself
1. Reduce Your Use of Tobacco in Stages
It’s no secret that quitting smoking can decrease your lung cancer risk. However, according to a recent study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, even cutting your tobacco consumption by half can be helpful. JAMA also reported a 90% reduction in cancer risk for those who quit smoking before middle age. Numbers such as these make it clear that the greatest lung cancer risk reduction is quitting altogether. With that said, if you aren’t quite ready for that, consider reducing the amount you smoke daily while you work on making a plan for quitting in the coming days and weeks.
2. Get Rid of Any Smoking Temptations
Smoking is one of the toughest addictions there is— and the only way to cope with strong temptations is to remove the things that are causing those temptations in the first place. To do this, start by cleaning out the house and car of extra things that make it easy to pick up and smoke out of habit. If it’s not there, the habit is hard to feed. If you are quitting in stages, consider only buying half as much as what you did the week before, continuing the process until you’re down to nothing. If your significant other or housemate is a smoker and not interested in joining you in this endeavor, insist they smoke outside the house and keep all smoking paraphernalia out of your sight.
3. Give Your Home a Good Cleaning
After years of smoking, your sense of smell isn’t quite what it used to be. In fact, it’s unlikely that you even notice the smell that smoking leaves behind in your home, on your clothes, and in your car. This is why it’s a good idea to give your home and your car a good cleaning. Depending on your time and finances you may consider cleaning your carpets, upholstery, and curtains. You might even want to put a fresh coat of paint on the walls. After investing in this clean start, it may make you think twice about reaching for that pack of cigarettes again— especially when your sense of smell becomes sharper making you more sensitive to the smell of cigarettes in general.
4. Develop Healthier Habits
On average, the general consensus is that it takes about 21 days to form a new habit. As you work through shaking the unhealthy habit of smoking, replace it with healthier and enjoyable ones. Think about the times when you feel the need to smoke and replace that old activity with a new one. While this won’t be easy and certainly a challenge, these new distractions can be a beneficial tool in helping you navigate this time. Instead of smoking consider:
- Chew gum or suck on hard candy
- Playing a game on your phone
- Calling or messaging a friend
- Taking a walk, run, or bike ride
- Working out at the gym
While it’s only natural you’ll want to replace the action of smoking with a substitute, do your best to find something other than food. Overeating can lead to gaining excess weight, which could lead you right back to smoking. Try to find a balance so your snacking won’t get out of hand.
5. Pay Attention to Smoking Triggers
Even people with the strongest willpower can be knocked off course by certain triggers. But, being proactive can help. To do this, think ahead about things that could make you want to smoke. Is there a particular time of day or environment that gives you the urge? Is it first thing in the morning? If so, try to get out of the house for a walk around the block. Is it while on break with coworkers? If yes, then aim to find another spot to take your breaks. Do you typically smoke while drinking coffee or having a beer? Maybe have a coffee at a coffee shop and avoid happy hour for a little while. Whatever it is, find a way to substitute these potential triggers for other things while you work through the cravings.
6. Lean on Others for Support
There’s no reason to do this on your own. Include your friends, family, and coworkers, telling them about the ups and downs you are experiencing during this process. You may be surprised to learn of others who are trying to quit and be able to help one another. You may also consider joining Freedom From Smoking, an initiative by the American Lung Association that offers an online support group, group clinics, a helpline and more.
7. Treat Yourself
Smoking isn’t cheap. In fact, CNN Money rates smoking as one of the biggest money wasters, estimating that many smokers spend on average $70 weekly or $280 a month on their habit. That comes to $3,360 a year! Think of all the things you could do with those savings! Now might be the perfect time to start saving for that trip or cruise you've been dreaming of taking. Or, maybe you could buy something you’ve had your eye on for a while. Perhaps you could get into that hobby or sport that your smoking habit and lungs could not tolerate before. Whatever it may be, don’t forget to treat yourself a little for your hard efforts.
Don't Give Up. Quitting Smoking is Worth the Effort
Experiencing setbacks during this journey is completely normal— but don’t use a relapse as an excuse to give up. Instead, learn from it. It is never a failure as long as you keep trying and don't be afraid to talk about your feelings and frustrations with a trusted friend. If you continue to struggle with your addiction, talk with your doctor about medications that can help.
In the end, being smoke-free will be one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and to those that love you. Not only will you reduce your lung cancer risk but will also help your body to heal from other illnesses and protect yourself from other forms of cancer.
The Florida Department of Health has created the Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida with free resources to help you quit smoking or help a loved one. Visit tobaccofreeflorida.com for more information.
Categories: Lung Cancer