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Top 10 ways to quit smoking now and extend your life

Dec 29, 2011, 6 a.m.

You've probably heard it before. And if you already have and you're still a smoker, you're going to hear it again. After all, you're probably incredibly interested in doing whatever it takes to extend your life so that you can enjoy your sunset years, right? If so, we've pulled together a list of 10 helpful tips and considerations to bear in mind that'll make your momentous decision to quit smoking now that much easier on you.

  1. Decide that you want to quit. You can't do something that you're not ready to do and you certainly won't succeed if you don't know why you're doing it. Be sure to get those two things firmly in your head before you begin your efforts to stop smoking.
  2. Make a public commitment. You don't have to rent out a billboard, but telling everyone in your inner circle, including your friends and family, about your intent to stop smoking will yield positive results -- not the least of which will be their support. Telling others also gives you additional incentive to succeed.
  3. Understand there are no shortcuts. What this means is that if you want to quit smoking now, going cold turkey will probably end in failure, as it does for the 95 percent of people who take that approach. The risk of relapse is also high among cold turkey quitters, so bear that in mind.
  4. Get help to quit smoking now. Whether you get that help from your doctor through prescriptions that curb cravings, or whether you take the DIY approach by slapping on a nicotine patch, your success rate will be much higher if you acknowledge that your body's going to need a bit of help kicking the habit.
  5. Know what triggers your cravings. Many smokers tend to smoke more when they drink, and the act of doing one without the other is often unthinkable. If this is the case, cut back on your alcohol intake or eliminate it altogether if you want to give yourself less reasons to crave and more reasons to succeed.
  6. Get rid of the evidence. It's impossible to stop smoking if you've still got ashtrays with cigarette butts on your patio or around the house. Clear away all reminders of your former habit, including getting rid of lighters and cleaning your clothes, drapes, and furniture to get rid of that all too familiar smell which could cause your cravings to hit hard.
  7. Give yourself a break. It's common for people who stop smoking to relapse. It's in redoubling your efforts and trying again where the real difference lies, instead of just throwing in the towel and surrendering to your addiction. If you slip up, don't be so hard on yourself -- but recommit yourself to trying even harder to quit.
  8. Remind yourself constantly of the reasons you're doing what you're doing. Whether your goal is to be around long enough to see your great grandkids, because you're terrified of dying of cancer or heart disease, or simply because you're fed up with being a slave to your habits -- one of the most important things that you can do to help yourself succeed at quitting smoking is to not lose sight of the numerous reasons you have to succeed.
  9. Take up an exercise routine. Quite possibly no better way exists to deal with cigarette cravings than to replace a bad habit with a good one, like walking or swimming or playing tennis. Whatever your preferred choice of exercise, putting your body into motion can deliver a powerful blow against a possible relapse.
  10. Be good to yourself. If you quit smoking now it'll not only extend your life, but it'll also save you some serious money. Focus on the financial aspects of kicking the habit and plan a reward for yourself using the money that you're saving -- like a vacation to the Bahamas or a long overdue trip to visit family.

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