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Quitting Smoking Q&A;

Helping a Loved One Quit

Q
How do I get my mother, who has been smoking for 30 years, to quit? I have tried everything and I am very worried.

A
Those of us at the Try-To-Stop Tobacco Resource Center know from long experience that most people who smoke know how harmful it is and w ant ould like to quit. The problem is, most of them are also addicted to the nicotine in tobacco. A strong psychological dependence on smoking often develops at the same time, and this combination makes quit ting -ting a real challenge.

While there are no easy answers, you can’t MAKE another person stop - it can help to consistently (and frequently) say things like: "I care about you," "I know about the health effects of smoking and I don’t want them to happen to you," "When you’re ready, I’ll be there to support you," "There are new stop-smoking medicines that might help."

Nagging or trying to make a smoker feel guilty is not a good idea, so stick to the positives.

We have a pamphlet called Can you help the person in your life decide to quit? If you are a Rhode Island resident, you can also call us at 1-800-Try-To-Stop. We’ll send you that pamphlet, along with additional information. You can also view and order the pamphlet on www.trytostop.org <http://www.trytostop.org/>. Materials are free.

Secondhand Smoke

Q
My husband won't openly smoke in our apartment, however, he will smoke in front of an open window and exhale through the screen (about 12 cigarettes a day.) What are the secondhand smoke risks from this practice? Also, if he smokes in our car (when I'm not in it) can secondhand smoke still linger in the car when he's not there?

A
Blowing smoke out the window is probably a bit better than smoking in the room, however, I have to tell you that dangerous chemicals in smoke do linger on furniture and clothing even after the person has finished. Of course the same is true for the inside of your car. One thing your husband might want to do is clean the inside windows of the car and take a look at the brown junk that the paper towel picks up! Taking it outside is probably the best course of action, as far as secondhand smoke goes. Lots of times people decide that when there are so many places in their lives where they can't light up, they might as well quit!

Tobacco Facts

Q
I'm trying to get my level of tar and nicotine down before I quit. Do you have a list of the amounts in different brands of cigarettes?

A

Yes, we do. You'll find the list on www.trytostop.org <http://www.trytostop.org/>. It's great that you are cutting down before you quit, but here are a few words of caution. "Light" cigarettes, marketed as having much less nicotine and tar, actually aren't that different from regular cigarettes. As you'll see from the list, none are really low-tar. Usually people wind up inhal e ing cigarettes more deeply or smok e ing more cigarettes. With that said, switching brands and cutting down on how many cigarettes you smoke each day are good ideas, as long as you have a final quit date set in a few weeks. Once you get down to about 5 a day, its time to quit for good. Otherwise, those remaining cigarettes will become so important in your mind that you’ll have an even harder time giving them up!

Now would be a good time to call 1-800-Try-To-Stop for additional ideas on getting ready to quit. The Try-To-Stop Tobacco Resource Center of Rhode Island can send you self-help information, can refer you to a community stop-smoking program, or can link you to free telephone counseling from the American Cancer Society Quitline. Good luck!

Motivation to Quit

Q
After I had my baby, I was so stressed that I started smoking regularly. I never smoke in front of her (she’s now 9 years old). I find myself making excuses not to quit, even though I know that I am harming my own physical health and probably my daughter’s emotional health.

A
It’s not unusual for someone who truly wants to quit to find lots of ways to delay doing it. It sounds as though you have some great reasons to quit—not the least of which is staying healthy for your daughter and being a good role model. Keep those reasons in mind and consider setting a quit date in the next couple of weeks. That way you’ll have some time to make plans. Perhaps one of the stop smoking medicines would be helpful along with a stop smoking group or counselor. If you give 1-800-Try-To-Stop a call, we’ll send you information about quitting. If you wish we can refer you to a stop-smoking program in your community, and/or to a free telephone counseling service run by the American Cancer Society Quitline.

Q
I keep saying that I will stop smoking when my stress lessens. This obviously is not going to happen. How can I quit when stress rules?

A
Stress often trips people up, so you’re not at all unusual in that regard. If you check out the Quit Wizard on the www.trytostop.org <http://www.trytostop.org/> website, there’s a section on managing stress that you might find helpful. Besides thinking ahead of time and planning what to do in certain stressful situations, you’ll find a couple of really good relaxation exercises. Believe us, they work!

Q
This is my 6th try to quit. I've tried cold turkey, patches, and counseling. Why should I think this time could be different?

A
This is a great question to ask, as you’re trying to figure out how to have this quit attempt end in success. If you’re feeling discouraged, it may help to know that most people try to quit several times before they succeed. With each try, you learn something new that will help you next time. You’ve already seen what works for you and what doesn't. You have a better idea of what triggers you to smoke. You know who to count on for personal support. Take this knowledge and combine it with one or more stop-smoking methods and you raise your chances for success this time. Use the Quit Wizard on www.trytostop.org <http://www.trytostop.org/> and call us at 1-800-Try-To-Stop. We’ll help you to review why you are quitting this time and make plans.

Cravings/Withdrawal from Nicotine

Q
I’ve tried to quit three times - it’s been dreadful!

A
You’re right, it can feel dreadful. But keep trying! The average smoker tries a few times to quit before quitting for good, so you’re in good company. Think about changing your game plan, and adding some more support for yourself to make it easier this time. It’s a good idea to use several stop-smoking methods at the same time, and you don’t have to do it alone. You can contact a community program in Rhode Island, you can call 1-800-Try-To- Stop, log on to www.trytostop.org <http://www.trytostop.org/> , or head to the bookstore to pick up a self help book. Make a plan and stick to it. You are worth it, and we’re here to help.

Q
What are the most common withdrawal symptoms after quitting?

A
You can find a complete list of withdrawal symptoms and ways to handle them at www.trytostop.org <http://www.trytostop.org/> , or you can call the Try-To-Stop Tobacco Resource Center at 1-800-Try-To-Stop. Some of the most common are coughing, fatigue, cravings to smoke, and irritability. Not every one gets every withdrawal symptom, and many people feel only a few. There are three things to know about withdrawal: the worst symptoms are felt during the first few days, they disappear or ease up after two weeks or a month, and there are ways to make withdrawal easier. Be prepared, know how to cope, and don't expect the worst!

Q
I stopped smoking today! Do you have any tips as to how to keep my mind off of cigarettes? I am doing OK at work right now but I know when I get home it will be very tough.

A
Congratulations on quitting today! You’re smart to be thinking ahead to after work when you may have more reminders of when you used to smoke. If you rehearse in your mind the afternoon and evening ahead, you can think of things to do to resist the urge to light up. For example, if you usually drive home from work and smoke on your way home, take a different route or listen to a different radio station. In fact, before you get in the car, put the ashtray in the trunk! If you usually smoke after dinner, get up right away and start cleaning up or take a quick walk. You only need to look for distractions for a while. Pretty soon an evening without smoking will feel more normal.

Stop-Smoking Medicines

Q

I really want to quit. I have tried many times before and I know I can't do it on my own. Is one stop-smoking medicine better than another? What should I use?

A
Realizing that you need some help to quit is an important step to success. The best choice depends on your own patterns of smoking and personal preferences. In a nutshell, use several methods that feel right for you. We do know that using the nicotine patch, gum, nasal spray and/or inhaler or using Zyban (also called Wellbutrin Wellbutrin) as part of your overall quit plan can double your quit rate. These medicines are not right for everyone, so ask your health care provider or pharmacist for advice. The ones you choose will depend on what is medically safe for you and what works best with your lifestyle and smoking pattern. Medicines are not enough to help you quit and stay quit, though. You still have to figure out what to do when cravings and temptations come your way. You know yourself. What would work best for you? It might be joining a local stop-smoking program, using www.trytostop.org <http://www.trytostop.org/> and the Quit Wizard, taking part in telephone counseling, or reading pamphlets on how to quit and stay quit. Use as many methods as you can, because each one will help you in a different way.

Weight Gain

Q
I've worked hard to lose a lot of weight. I know I need to quit, but I'm afraid of gaining weight back. Does quitting change one's metabolism? Can I prevent weight gain?

A
Weight gain is a big fear for many people considering quitting tobacco. Quitting does change the body's metabolism, which has been chemically boosted because of the stimulant effect of nicotine. Without nicotine, your body needs to adjust, and the average weight gain is about 5-10 pounds. The good news is that YOU CAN make plans to reduce or prevent weight gain. Boosting your metabolism naturally through exercise, and decreasing caloric and fat intake, will make a difference. Using nicotine replacement therapies and/or Zyban can help to reduce or eliminate weight gain as well. Did you know that you would have to gain about 75 pounds to equal the negative health consequences of smoking? Continue to use the skills and strategies you used to lose the weight, and know that some of these skills can be transferred to help you quit smoking. Check out some of www.trytostop.org <http://www.trytostop.org/> 's Quit Questions and Success Stories to see what smokers and quitters have to say about the weight issue.

Other Smokers

Q
How do you quit when you live with someone who smokes as much if not more than you do?

A
It is tough to quit when people around you are smoking. You’ll need to focus on your-self and to make sure that you have personal support from others for this quit attempt. Sometimes you can work out some "rules" that are mutually agreeable: keeping ashtrays and cigarettes in an out-of-the-way place, smoking only outside your home and not in the car, not smoking in front of you. When one of you quits, it means that you won’t be smoking together, so be sure that you have nonsmoking time together.

Just One?

Q
I quit smoking one week and one day ago. I want to have just one cigarette. My partner is saying that I should not. What is your opinion on having just one?

A
Don’t do it! You’ve been able to resist cravings so far, which is great. Deciding to have "just one" usually leads to "oh, another one can't hurt," which results in smoking regularly again. Several of the Success Stories on www.trytostop.org <http://www.trytostop.org/> make this point: one is one too many. Don't tempt fate, or test yourself. Ask yourself why you want that cigarette and figure out what to do instead. Are you bored? Find a project to work on. Are you lonely? Spend time with a friend (a non-smoker). Stick with it—whatever you’re doing so far has worked. Think about whether you need more support to stay smoke-free right now, and ask for it. And, by the way, congratulations on quitting!

From: http://www.health.ri.gov/disease/tobacco/helpingothers.php