Staying Away For Longer Period Is The Main Challenge

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Perhaps one of the best motivators for staying away from cigarettes is knowing how it benefits you. According to the US Surgeon General's report the benefits of quitting smoking start almost immediately and accumulate the longer you refrain from smoking. After just 20 minutes of non-smoking your blood pressure returns to normal. Eight hours later, the carbon dioxide has been eliminated from your system. During the three months after quitting, your lung capacity increases by 30%. One year after quitting your risk of heart attack has become half that of a regular smoker. After five years your risk of stroke has normalized and after 10 years your risk of lung cancer is half that of a regular smoker.

These accumulated health benefits are the same no matter when you quit. Of course, if you quit when you are young you have a much better chance of regaining normal health within a shorter time. But even if you quit when you are 60 your life expectancy and quality of living will increase.

Unfortunately, what is going to happen 10 years down the road is often of little consequence during a spell of nicotine craving. The longer you quit smoking, however, the less often these cravings will occur. But smoking is more than just a physical addiction, it is also a behavioral habit, and long after the physical need for nicotine has been overcome you may still feel the urge to smoke in certain situations.

Identifying the situations which cause you to reach for a cigarette can be of great help in overcoming the urge to smoke. If you know, for example, that you feel like smoking at parties, you may want to avoid them for a certain period of time until you break the habit. Likewise, if situations of stress make you want to smoke, finding alternate ways to deal with stress will help you stay smoke-free.

Despite all your best efforts, you may find that you have lapsed and have taken up smoking again. If this happens, don't be discouraged -- many people have to try four or five times before they successfully quit. The most important thing is to immediately stop smoking. Even if you are in the middle of a cigarette, put it out and throw away the rest of the package. Don't get down on yourself or think that you have failed -- each time you renew your resolution to quit it becomes stronger.

Try to find moral support from family and friends. If you feel like smoking, talk to somebody about it and let them know what you are going through. Some communities have support groups for people who are trying to quit. With regular meetings and contact with other members you can support each other and offer encouragement and advice.

Some companies also offer programs for employees who wish to quit. Take advantage of all of these services -- your commitment to quit smoking is beneficial not only to yourself but also to your family, friends, and associates.