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Today is Great American Smokeout Day

November 14, 2012
Estherville Daily News

Here it is. Today is Great American Smokeout Day, a day to kick butts (cigarettes butts, that is) for good.

Oh, well I've already had my umpteenth cigarette today, so I guess I'll try it next year.

Is that your line of thinking? Well, guess what. By this time next year, you may have developed emphysema, heart disease or lung cancer. And then it will be too late.

Well, I've given up everything else, and all I have left is smoking. So what's the harm in that, you might ask yourself.

Well, let's say you smoke a pack a day - and that's actually pretty moderate for a lot of smokers. Well, take that $6 a day times 365 and you come up with $2,190. And that would pay for a pretty darned nice vacation, don't you agree?

Well, I probably wouldn't put the money away anyway, so I might just as well smoke.

No. What you need to do is put that $6 away - every day - in a jar where you can see it grow.

Well, I work hard. I deserve a little reward, don't I?

Well think of it like this. Isn't oxygen a reward? Isn't the freedom to breathe pure unadulterated oxygen a reward? Well, that's what you get when you quit smoking.

Well, how do I quit smoking.

We're glad you asked that question. Now we're getting somewhere. First of all, pick a date. Sure, it might not be on Great American Smokeout Day, but use today as inspiration to pick that date. Tip: Friday is a good day. It takes about three days to cleanse the nicotine from your system. If you have your last cigarette on a Thursday night (tonight, maybe?) you only have one day of work to go through tomorrow and then it will be the weekend.

And when you do quit, stay busy. Read, walk, run, work out, do puzzles. Do whatever you have to, but do something to take your mind off cigarettes.

Now comes the tricky part. Nicotine is an associative and subconscious addiction. It's associative in that we associate cigarettes with other things like coffee or after a meal or first thing in the morning or last thing at night. The key is to fight through these times, and when you do, you'll be the winner.

Nicotine addiction is also subconscious in that when we least suspect it, nicotine cravings come up from behind up behind us. The key is to fight off these subconscious cravings with conscious strategies. Yeah, you'll have to grit your teeth and bear it, but you can do it. Millions of people have quit, and so can you.

Now here's a good one. If you're a parent or grandparent, put your children's or grandchildren's picture inside the cellophane of your cigarette pack. Then, when you want to grab a cigarette, you'll have to think of how you'll be stealing away the years those children will have with you. If that isn't the ultimate guilt trip, nothing is.

When you quit, you'll have long periods of cravings interspersed with shorter periods of not craving. Those non-craving periods will increase through time as the length of the craving periods will decrease. Sure, you'll still have cravings. You'll probably even dream about smoking for years. But everytime you wake up, you'll take a deep breath of fresh air. And that terrible dream about smoking will be over.

And there's no such thing as just one. Maybe you can do that with potato chips (or maybe not). But that's certainly not the case with cigarettes. Sometimes, people will actually "reward" themselves with a cigarette for going a week without one. Bad idea. That's defeating the entire purpose of quitting.

Quitting smoking is hard work. It requires focused attention. After three to four days, the nicotine is gone from your system, and from that point on, the addiction is purely psychological.

"Smoking Cigarettes: The Unfiltered Truth: Understanding Why and How to Quit" by Janet Benner is an excellent book on quitting smoking. It walks you through the steps and tells you exactly what to expect when you try to quit.

If you try and fail, don't get discouraged. It actually takes most people several tries until they can finally quit for good.

So good luck.



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