If you smoke, quitting is the most important action you can take to reduce your cancer risk. Half of all smokers who keep smoking will end up eventually dying from a smoking-related illness.

I found that news alarming - and now I'm proud to say I'm a former smoker. I don't want to risk my life. I want to watch my kids grow, enjoy life, and to watch my daughter walk down the aisle someday. I want to see what awesome roads lie ahead of my sons and see the difference they make in the lives of those around them. I don't need a smoking related illness to rob me of this joy.

I quit on December 15th, 2011 and never looked back. My initial target quit date was suppose to be the first day of the new year - but that seemed not very original. So I woke up, looked at my children at the breakfast table and made the decision that this was going my quitting day.

Here is what I would recommend for those about to quit.

  1. Quit 'cold turkey. I know of very few people who were able to quit by "easing off" of them. Toss the smokes out and get a nicotine gum to curb the cravings.
  2. Get out and walk. There is nothing that I did that lessened my cravings more than taking a walk. The fresh air combined with burning calories instead of a Marlboro Light is quite powerful. Try it.
  3. This will come as a shock - but give up beer for a while. The biggest "trigger" of lighting up for years has been a cold beer. They just go together like Mr. Rogers and his neighborhood. Once you get past the major cravings and you're not thinking about it 24/7 - go ahead a have a beer. but I wouldn't recommend it before then.
  4. Tell everyone around you that you have given up smoking. Don't say, "I'm going to try..." But instead say "I quit for good!" Confidence will prove that you're serious about your new goals.
  5. Buy some big-ass bags of Lifesavers. Chewing on things will give your mouth something to do.
  6. Download an app or two. Research shows that getting help increases your chances of success. And some of the most effective support comes from messages delivered over cell phones.
  7. Adding up the cost of a yearly cigarette habit should stop you dead in your tracks. A pack-a-day smoker will spend nearly $2,500 per year on the habit. What would you do with another $208 dollars per month? Buy a nice motorcycle as a reward? Go for it.

It’s important to choose a program that’s based on quit-smoking recommendations proven through research to be effective.

  • The Quit For Life® Program, provided by the American Cancer Society and Alere Health, offers a free smartphone app for iPhone and Android that offers daily tips and motivation, a cost-savings calculator, and a calendar to track your success.
  • The National Cancer Institute also has a quit-smoking app that allows users to set quit dates, track financial goals, schedule reminders, and more. It also offers a text messaging service that provides round-the-clock encouragement and advice to people trying to quit. You can sign up by texting “QUIT” to iQUIT (47848) and selecting a date to stop smoking.

I was convinced I was going to be a lifelong smoker. Now, I've never felt better. I work out 4 nights a week at a nearby gym. I've achieved my desired muscle tone and weight. The kids and I will go on hikes whenever we can. They are so thankful they have a much healthier dad - and I couldn't be happier.

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