Tips on how to quit smoking
The number of adults who smoke cigarettes has declined over the past decade: 20.9 percent of U.S. adults reported they smoked cigarettes in 2005, while just 15.1 percent said the same in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meanwhile, the rate of people who said they've kicked the habit has increased. In 2005, 50.8 percent of American adults said they'd successfully quit smoking. In 2016, that number increased to 59 percent.
While the number of people who have quit has increased, there are still many adults out there who struggle with walking away from cigarettes for good. This is understandable, considering the addictive quality of cigarettes. Nicotine is one of the most challenging drugs to quit, according to American Addiction Centers. A three-year Canadian study of 1,277 adults trying to quit smoking found that the average number of attempts before finding success was 30, Reuters reported.
Why cigarettes are so hard to quit
The addictive nature of nicotine plays a large role in why smoking is such a difficult habit to break. This drug literally goes straight to your head when you inhale, which gives you immediate effects like relaxation or stress relief. However, this is temporary and only serves to fuel the addiction, The American Heart Association pointed out. After the impact of the nicotine wears off, you'll be craving another cigarette soon enough.
Smoking is a tough habit to break but there are steps you can take to make it easier.
Fighting the nicotine craving is only part of the challenge to quit smoking; there are other factors at play, too. Smoking can easily be ingrained to a person's day-to-day routine, such as lighting up on the drive to work or over your morning coffee. When smoking is a normal part of your daily schedule, it can be hard to approach those tasks or times of the day without a cigarette, the American Lung Association pointed out.
Another reason it's hard to quit is because many smokers reach for their packs and lighters under specific conditions, like when work is stressful or when they're socializing with their friends. When smoking is a normal response to certain triggers or situations, it can be challenging to address those circumstances without smoking.
Effective methods to quit smoking
Ending your smoking habit will be hard, but there are some techniques you can employ to make the process easier on yourself and promote your chances for success. Try:
Keeping your hands and mouth busy
Smoking can be a mindless activity that engages both your hands and mouth. If you're craving for nicotine is coupled with an urge to keep your body busy, try replacing it with something else. Mayo Clinic suggested chewing gum or having a crunchy snack, like sunflower seeds, carrots or celery. Keep your fingers active with small toys or putty.
Intense cravings can be hard to ignore. Certain smoking cessation drugs are available to help give you a quick nicotine fix to soothe your cravings without giving in to the cigarette. See how nicotine gum, nasal spray, lozenges or patches affect your urge to smoke.
Some people have pointed to e-cigarettes as a helpful replacement to regular cigarettes that can ease a person into a nicotine-free life. These devices contain nicotine but significantly fewer harmful chemicals that are found in regular cigarettes, Popular Science reported. However, little is known about the long-term effects of using these devices.
Aerobic exercise, like running, swimming or cycling, can help reduce your urge to smoke and help ease the symptoms of withdrawal, Business Insider reported. Consider joining a gym or investing in exercise equipment as a part of your smoking cessation process.
Putting an end to your smoking habit won't be easy. However, understanding why you smoke and taking action through proven smoking cessation methods can help you move on from cigarettes.