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Quitting Is Hard. Don't Do It Alone.

NCH's Courage to Quit® is a comprehensive tobacco treatment program for adults that is sponsored by the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. To learn more about the support services we offer, visit our Smoke Free Living page. For more information about group or individual counseling, call HealthConnection at 847.618.4YOU (4968) or check out our Online Events Guide.

Quit for Good

Give your health a boost by giving up smoking once and for all

It's true that an occasional piece of cake or glass of wine isn't going to kill you. But a once-in-a-while cigarette does more harm than you may realize.

Even infrequent cigarette smoking can impair the functioning of your arteries, according to a study from the University of Georgia. In fact, just a couple of cigarettes over a weekend can decrease arterial function into the next week—or even longer.

No smoking is safe. Some people think low-tar, "light" or menthol cigarettes carry fewer risks, but the American Cancer Society (ACS) says otherwise. Studies have found that the risk of lung cancer is no lower in people who smoke light or low-tar cigarettes, and menthol-flavored cigarettes may actually be more dangerous than other brands, according to the ACS.

Reduce Your Risk

The best way to improve your health is to put down those cigarettes and never pick them up again. Quitting isn't easy, but the right support can go a long way. If you're ready to give up the habit once and for all, try these strategies to help ensure your success:

  • Set a quit date, and plan ahead to deal with cravings with replacements such as peppermints, carrot sticks or toothpicks.
  • Ask your doctor about medicines that can control your nicotine cravings or withdrawal symptoms.
  • Join a support group or telephone-counseling program.
  • Tell the people in your life that you're quitting, and ask them to assist you in whatever way you need.
  • Throw away all of your cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays.
  • Write down your reasons for wanting to quit, and refer to the list when you need encouragement.
  • If you slip up, don't beat yourself up over it. It often takes a few tries to quit for good. The important thing is to keep trying.

If you feel you're not yet ready to quit, do some research. The more you understand what you're doing, why you're doing it and how you can stop, the more likely you are to decide that smoking is no longer for you. Quitting smoking is one of the most challenging choices you can make, but it's also one of the best things you can do for your health.

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Last Updated 04/10/2009