Great American Smokeout – Tips to Help You Quit Smoking

We all know the health hazards of smoking, including increased risk of life threatening and life altering diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and chronic lung disease. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, tobacco is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S. 
In addition to increasing your risk of disease, smoking can impede your work as a first responder, causing shortness of breath, coughing, high blood pressure, narrowing of the blood vessels, and other affects that will make you less able to perform your duties. It is also a very costly habit, both in terms of the money you spend on cigarettes as well as the money spent on treating tobacco-related health conditions.
Quitting smoking has both immediate and long term benefits that will enable you to live a healthier, longer life and be more effective and stronger as a first responder. Yet due to the addictive nature of nicotine, quitting smoking can be challenging. Rest assured that it is a challenge worth tackling.
The Great American Smokeout takes place this Thursday, November 19, and is a great time to make the switch to a smoke-free lifestyle. The event was created by the American Cancer Society and shows that if you can quit for a day, you can quit for good. Resources are available to help you quit on the Great American Smokout web site.
The National Volunteer Fire Council’s Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program also has resources specifically designed to help first responders quit and stay quit. This includes tips and resources for smoking cessation, how departments can support these efforts through establishing a no-smoking policy, and the five steps for quitting smoking. Access these resources here.
As a first responder, you are used to tackling difficult situations. Make sure improving your health is at the top of your list. Use November 19 as the day you finally decide to quit. And if you slip along the way in your quest for a smoke-free life, simply start again. It takes many smokers several tries to fully kick the habit. 
The following provides some tips to help you in your effort to achieve a smoke free lifestyle, as well as tips for those supporting smokers who are trying to quit.
Quit Tips for Smokers:
  • Remember that you are NOT alone. About 22 percent of American adults are former smokers. Find a support group or mentor to help you through the process.
  • Nibble on low calorie snacks like fruits and veggies.
  • Chew gum when a craving hits.
  • Remove unnecessary reminders, such as ashtrays and lighters, from your house, car, and office.
  • Write a list of reasons why you want to quit smoking so that you can remind yourself of why you are going through this process.
  • Find a type of exercise that you enjoy and steadily work it into your routine.
  • Keep a log of when you most often crave a cigarette so that you can plan a strategy to avoid the triggers. For example:

    • Carry a book, magazine, or crossword puzzle with you to help you endure breaks, waiting for a bus, or other moments when you may be bored and would normally smoke.
    • After dinner, suck on a hard candy, sip your favorite beverage, or use a toothpick to substitute the cigarette.
    • Stock your car with simple snacks such as sunflower seeds.
  • Visit to see how extra much money you will have available in the coming days, months, and years, just by quitting smoking!
  • Don’t be discouraged if you give in. Most ex-smokers tried to quit several times before they succeeded. Wipe your slate clean and try again!
Tips for Supporting Those Who Are Trying to Quit:
  • If you are a smoker, do not smoke around those who you know are trying to quit.
  • Remain optimistic and offer words of encouragement, especially if the person is struggling or has faced a setback.
  • Expect the person to be irritable, especially in the beginning.
  • Refrain from taking the person to restaurants, bars, or other places that you know allow smoking, and try out smoke-free establishments instead.
  • Plan activities to do with the person to help keep them active and their minds off of smoking.
  • Celebrate with them at various milestones.
  • Ask them what you can do to show support and make the process easier for them.