Make 2010 the year to quit smoking, for good

Published 1:02 am Sunday, December 27, 2009

No one ever said quitting smoking was easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. There is no time like the start of a new year to give it a try. Here are several ways to make it a little bit easier on yourself.

First things first — get help. “Nicotine is a very addictive drug that is difficult for even the strongest person to stop using,” said Roy Hart, director of the Mississippi State Department of Health’s (MSDH) Office of Tobacco Control. “Getting professional help can really increase your chances of successfully quitting. In fact, those who get help are twice as likely to quit using tobacco for good.”

Help is only a phone call away. Mississippians who want to quit using tobacco can access free tobacco cessation services by calling the Mississippi Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT NOW. Tobacco users can receive counseling at no cost, and they may be eligible to receive free nicotine replacement therapies, such as a nicotine patch or gum.

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Next, set a quit day. “Select a date to stop smoking that is far enough in the future to make plans, but close enough that your quit date is near,” said Kellie Lamb, Director of Pearl River and Hancock County MS Tobacco Free Coalition. “New Year’s Day is a perfect quit day.”

Make sure you put your quit day on your calendar where you will see it and remember the goal that you want to accomplish.

Avoiding triggers is another way to help yourself along your journey to a smoke-free life. “Avoid people and places that may trigger the urge to smoke,” said Kellie Lamb. “If you are invited to an occasion where you know people will be smoking, it may be a good idea to decline the invitation for now.”

Substitute smoking with another activity; just try to not to replace it with eating. Try taking a walk, chewing gum or writing in a journal instead. “Reward yourself in some way when you make it through a day without smoking,” suggested Kellie Lamb. “Buy yourself something nice with all of that money you saved by not lighting up.”

Remember, the sooner you stop smoking, the sooner you and your family can start living a healthier life. For more information about tobacco cessation, email the MS Tobacco Free Coalition of Pearl River and Hancock County at or visit