The Great American Smokeout

Today is the Great American Smokeout. Every year since 1977, the American Cancer Society has run a campaign to encourage America’s smokers to give up cigarettes on the third Thursday in November—and, ideally, all the day after that.

If you’ve been thinking of quitting, today is the perfect day to start. That’s really true of any day, but today you can be part of a group of Americans who are taking back their lives today. There’s no wrong reason to quit smoking, but there are some particularly popular ones.

For example, you might be doing it for the money—in addition to the thousands of dollars a year you won’t be spending on cigarettes, your life insurance premiums will go down when you’re no longer a smoker. You might be doing it to set a good example for your kids, or to make sure you’re there to watch them grow up. You might want to free your loved ones from having to live in a smoky environment. Whatever your reason, your life, and the life of those around you, will be improved by your decision.

The other good news is that quitting smoking doesn’t have to be difficult. You don’t have to do it alone, and you can—and should, if you need to—get help from your doctor and from your friends. There are also a lot of products you can use to help ease the cravings. In fact, a recent study found that nicotine replacement combined with behavioral therapy is the most successful, and most consistently successful, way to kick the tobacco habit for good. Left alone, cravings will go away within the first two weeks as your body returns to its normal, healthy state.

The other effects of withdrawal, such as irritability and food cravings, also pass. However, if you’re committed to stopping smoking, that can temporarily take precedence over worrying about things like food cravings. Another thing not to worry about is relapses. It’s better to quit than to trail off, but it’s better to trail off than to slip up once and then give up. As long as you keep trying, you’ll get there eventually.

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