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It's Good to Be a Quitter 

One of the most common New Year's Resolutions people make is to quit smoking cigarettes. It is a serious challenge, especially for someone who has been smoking for many years. Cigarette smoking is an addiction and it often takes significant will power and determination to get "un-hooked."

Smoking is one of the most damaging things a person can do to his or her own body. There is no longer any dispute that it is the leading cause of lung cancer, and it can be directly related to emphysema, heart disease, chronic bronchitis and numerous other cancers and ailments. Smoking can make you short-winded and, if you already suffer from respiratory ailments such as asthma, it can worsen those conditions. People who smoke are generally sick more often than those who don't, and thousands of work hours are lost each year by people suffering from smoking-related ailments.

Many smokers sincerely want to quit, but they find it difficult. It's not easy breaking free of the nicotine addiction and "kicking the habit," but it is possible. Here are some things you can do.

When you decide to quit, it's a good idea to also avoid alcohol and coffee. They tend to stimulate the desire to light up. You also need to change your normal routines associated with smoking. If you customarily light up after a meal or first thing in the morning, you need to fight those urges. Instead brush your teeth or suck on a strong cough drop -- preferably a menthol-eucalyptus flavored kind; they make smoke taste terrible and help cut down the desire. Chewing sugarless gum has also been known to help some people avoid lighting up.

You also need to destroy all cigarettes and tobacco products in your house, clean and hide your ashtrays and eliminate all tobacco odors from your living quarters. Don't try to quit by "cutting down" on the number of cigarettes you smoke each day. It rarely works. Going "cold turkey" may be the best way to break the addiction cycle.

In all likelihood, when you quit smoking, you will go through a withdrawal period that can last for weeks or months. You may feel a constant, nagging urge to light up. You have to fight that urge and not give in to it. During this time you may become irritable or temperamental. Ask those around you to be patient and understanding while you go through this difficult phase. In most cases, they will not only be understanding, they will be supportive as well, and probably will give you tremendous encouragement.

Many who quit smoking substitute food for tobacco. This is a time when you have to carefully monitor your eating habits and the size of your portions. When you feel "the urge," chow down instead on low-calorie snacks such as celery sticks, apples or carrots. Keep your meals healthy, balanced and of modest size.

And, of course, you should see your doctor and get a physical checkup. Follow the physician's advice if they prescribe something to help you quit. There are numerous over-the-counter smoking cessation aids. Ask your doctor before trying them, and don't use them if they conflict with something that's been prescribed for you.

Quitting smoking can be a difficult experience. Keep your resolution firm through the whole process. Keep reminding yourself why you're doing it. Think of the benefits you'll enjoy from a longer, healthier life. And most of all, think of how good you'll feel about yourself once you've beaten this bad habit. Friends who have quit tell me it's one of the greatest triumphs they've ever experienced in their life.

Good luck and good health to you this New Year.

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