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Tips to make "quit day" a success on the Great American Smokeout, Nov. 19

November 18, 2015
Great American Smokeout

Circle the date on your calendar. Thursday, Nov. 19. The day you are going to kick the smoking habit as part of the Great American Smokeout.

“Prepare today for tomorrow’s Great American Smokeout quit day by making a survival kit consisting of celery and carrot sticks to munch on and take the place of a cigarette, as well as hard candy and gum,” said Donna Hawk, RRT, AE-C, pulmonary rehab clinician at Baystate Medical Center.

Tips to stop smoking

Hawk offers the following additional tips to help you stop smoking on Thursday:

  • Throw away all cigarettes right now, along with ashtrays, lighters and matches.
  • Make a list of your reasons for quitting. Keep it with you and read it when you are tempted to light up.
  • Limit your caffeine intake. Drink decaffeinated coffee, tea or other beverages.
  • Limit alcohol consumption and your sugar intake.
  • Choose one place not to smoke where you do now, for example, your automobile.
  • If cigarettes give you an energy boost, try modest exercise like a brisk walk.

Hawk said when you feel the need for a cigarette, remember the 4 Ds:

  • Delay – Wait it out and after 5-6 minutes the urge usually fades away.
  • Deep Breath – Take 3 deep breaths. Hold the last one in for a few seconds and exhale slowly. This will relax you and also use the muscles normally used for inhaling.
  • Drink Water – Unless on a fluid restriction, drink plenty of water or fruit juice to help the nicotine leave your body.
  • Do Something Else – Keep occupied by doing crossword puzzles, reading a book, crocheting or knitting, writing letters, playing cards or doodling.
  • Never say “I quit smoking” because your resolve is broken if you have a cigarette. Better to say “I choose not to smoke.” This way you maintain your resolution even if you accidentally have a cigarette.

Where can you get help to stop smoking?

For additional support in stopping smoking, call the American Lung Association’s Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872). An expert is available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to midnight.

There is also a translation service offering 200 different languages and TTY for hearing impaired at 1-800-501-1068.

There is also a free Freedom from Smoking online basic program with eight learning modules at

The health risks of smoking

Some 100 years ago before people began to smoke in increasing numbers, lung cancer was very rare. Today, despite the fact there are fewer smokers, lung cancer remains the #1 cause of cancer deaths in the United States, killing more men and women each year than colon, breast, and prostate cancer combined.

The facts speak for themselves. Ninety percent of lung cancers occur in smokers. Still 10 percent of people diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked. However, a very small number of people have no risk factors. The majority of people in that 10 percent category have been exposed to second-hand smoke, radon gas, asbestos or other chemicals or pollution.

The benefits of giving up smoking begin immediately, according to Baystate Medical Center pulmonary nurse clinician Michele Hart.

“Within the first 20 minutes your heart rate begins to drop back to normal levels, within 12 hours after quitting the carbon monoxide levels in your blood drop, and 24 hours after