It's easy to postpone the day you want to quit smoking, and almost any excuse will do.
But know this: Smokers who quit before their 50th birthday can cut their risk of dying over the following 15 years in half, according to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
An ingrained psychological habit
In South Africa, 17.6% of all adults smoke tobacco, with men four times more likely to smoke than women. Out of current tobacco smokers, 29.3% have already been advised to quit smoking by their health practitioners, according to a survey published by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
As you get yourself mentally ready to stop smoking, it's important to recognise that, besides dealing with a nicotine addiction, quitting smoking means changing a deeply ingrained psychological habit.
You can help this process along by identifying the situations that make you want to smoke and steering clear of them.
Here are some ways to kick-start and create your own plan to quit smoking:
1. Shake up your routine
Smoking is often embedded in your work routine. Make changes to your routine at the office.
For example, if you always take a work break with co-workers who smoke, you'll want to take breaks with nonsmokers or do something completely different, like go for a short walk or sit down for a cup of coffee and a quick talk.
2. Take a deep breath
Many people smoke because it helps them handle stress, depression and other negative emotions. Look for other ways to handle these feelings, like exercise, meditation, relaxation and even simple deep breathing.
3. Break the link between drinking and smoking
If having a drink makes you want to light up, switch to nonalcoholic beverages, munch on raw veggies, or chew on gum or even a straw when you're out with friends. Socialise in places where smoking is prohibited. Some people find it helps to give up alcohol (or soda or coffee) for the first several months to break the association between the cigarette and the beverage.
4. Get support
Let loved ones who smoke know you're trying to quit and are changing your habits to give yourself the best possible chance of success. Ask for their support by not smoking around you.
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