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New Year's resolutions: Smokers often vow to quit their unhealthy habit

By MARGO HORNER, The Mirror

One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions in the United States is to quit smoking.

But simply vowing to give up cigarettes on New Year’s Day may not be the best strategy, says neurologist Patrick Hogan, a tobacco addiction specialist from St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma.

Successfully quitting smoking takes a great deal of preparation, Hogan said.

“We equate it to preparing for a major athletic event,” he said. “You’re not going to jump right in. You’re going to prepare for a while.”

Rather than giving up cigarettes on New Year’s Day, Hogan suggests beginning the planning process that day. Plan to spend at least two weeks preparing to quit smoking. Those two weeks will be less harmful than a failed attempt at quitting because people who fail often get discouraged and don’t try to quit again for several years, he said.

During the preparation phase, people should consider options for helping them quit such as nicotine replacement, group therapy and medication. Prescriptions such as Wellbutrin and Chantix have proven very effective, Hogan said.

“They’re pretty amazingly successful, actually,” he said.

People who are quitting smoking should also consider the three areas in which nicotine is addictive — psychologically, physically and habitually. Then they can better plan for how they are going to fight cravings.

“People need to kind of start preparing and thinking about all these things,” Hogan said. “I think the mistake that people make is thinking, oh, well I’m just going to do it without making the psychological preparation.”

As part of preparations, people might consider their reasons for quitting smoking and write down a list, Hogan said. Some reasons might include a fear of dying from tobacco-related diseases or a desire to live a healthier life.

“Even if a person doesn’t die from it... everyone that smokes is impaired to some degree in their quality of life,” he said, adding that smokers suffer from impaired vision, bone weakness and depleted energy levels as a result of the toxins in their body.

For those who are ready to quit, Hogan said to begin visualizing themselves as a non-smoker and to be persistent in their efforts to quit.

“It’s the best thing they’ll do for themselves in their entire lifetime,” he said.

Contact Margo Horner: mhorner@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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The most popular New Year’s Resolutions in the United States are:

Lose weight

Pay off debt

Save money

Get a better job

Get fit

Eat right

Get a better education

Drink less alcohol

Quit smoking

Reduce stress overall

Reduce stress at work

Take a trip

Volunteer to help others

Source: www.usa.gov.

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Call it quits:

For more information about enrolling in Freedom From Tobacco support groups, contact Tricia Sinek, manager of Community Cancer Programs at Franciscan Health System, at (253) 426-6746 or by e-mail at triciasinek@FHShealth.org.

For more information and resources about quitting tobacco, call the Washington Quit Line at (800) 784-8669 or visit www.quitline.com.

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