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About 46 million American adults smoke cigarettes, but most smokers are either actively trying to quit or want to quit. Since 1965, more than 49 percent of all adults who have ever smoked have quit smoking.

  • After one year off cigarettes, the excess risk of coronary heart disease caused by smoking is reduced by half. After 15 years of abstinence, the risk is similar to that for people who’ve never smoked.
  • In 5 to 15 years, the risk of stroke for ex-smokers returns to the level of those who’ve never smoked.
  • Male smokers who quit between ages 35 to 39 add an average of 5 years to their lives. Female quitters in this age group add 3 years. Men and women who quit at ages 65 to 69 increase their life expectancy by 1 year.

More than four in five smokers say they want to quit. And each year about 1.3 million smokers do quit. With good smoking cessation programs, like Smoke Away, 20 to 40 percent of participants are able to quit smoking and stay quit.

Why do You Smoke?

If you know the answer to this question, it will be easier to stop smoking because you can find ways to make up for the things you may miss when you stop.

Most people smoke for different reasons at different times. Reasons for smoking include psychological issues, habits, social pressures and physical dependence on nicotine. The questionnaire that follows will help you decide which reasons are important in your smoking.

 Let’s Take The ‘Why Test’

Next to the following statements, mark the number that best describes your own experience. (5=Always, 4=Most of the time, 3=Once in a while, 2=Rarely, 1=Never)

___ A. I smoke to keep myself from slowing down.
___ B. Handling a cigarette is part of the enjoyment of smoking it.
___ C. Smoking is pleasant and relaxing.
___ D. I light up a cigarette when I feel angry about something.
___ E. When I am out of cigarettes, it’s near-torture until I can get more.
___ F. I smoke automatically, without even being aware of it.
___ G. I smoke when people around me are smoking.
___ H. I smoke to perk myself up.
___ I. Part of my enjoyment from smoking is preparing to light up.
___ J. I get pleasure from smoking.
___ K. When I feel uncomfortable or upset, I light up a cigarette.
___ L. When I’m not smoking a cigarette, I’m very much aware of the fact.
___ M. I often light up a cigarette when one is still burning in the ashtray.
___ N. I smoke cigarettes with friends when I am having a good time.
___ O. When I smoke, part of the enjoyment is watching the smoke as I exhale.
___ P. I want a cigarette most often when I am comfortable and relaxed.
___ Q. I smoke when I am “blue” and want to take my mind off what’s bothering me.
___ R. I get a real hunger for a cigarette when I haven’t had one in a while.
___ S. I’ve found a cigarette in my mouth and haven’t remembered it was there.
___ T. I always smoke when I am out with friends at a party, bar, etc.
___ U. I always smoke cigarettes to get a lift.

Now for the reality, Score Yourself

Step 1: Transfer the numbers from the quiz to the scorecard that follows by matching up the letters. For example, take the number you wrote for question A on the quiz and enter it on line A of the scorecard.

Step 2: Add each set of 3 scores on the scorecard to get the total for each different category. For example, to find your score on the “Stimulation” category, add together the scores for questions A, H and U.

The score for each category can range from a low of 3 to a high of 15. A score of 11 or above on any set is high and means that your smoking is probably influenced by that category. A score of 7 or below is low and means that this category is not a primary source of satisfaction to you when you smoke.

‘Why Test’ scorecard

“It stimulates me.” You feel that smoking gives you energy and keeps you going. Think about alternative ways to boost your energy, such as brisk walking or jogging.
___ A
___ H
___ U
___ “Stimulation” Total

“I want something in my hand.” There are a lot of things you can do with your hands without lighting up a cigarette. Try doodling with a pencil, or playing with putty or a fake cigarette.
___ B
___ I
___ O
___ “Handling” Total

“It feels good.” You get a lot of physical pleasure from smoking. Various forms of exercise or other activities can be effective alternatives.
___ C
___ J
___ P
___ “Pleasure/Relaxation” Total

“It’s a crutch.” It can be tough to stop smoking if you find cigarettes comforting in times of stress, but there are many better ways to deal with stress.
___ D
___ K
___ Q
___ “Crutch/Tension” Total

“I’m hooked.” In addition to having a psychological addiction to smoking, you may also be physically addicted to nicotine. It’s a hard addiction to break, but it can be done. Talk with your doctor about using nicotine replacement therapy (the gum, patch, inhaler or nasal spray) to control your withdrawal symptoms.
___ E
___ L
___ R
___ “Craving/Addiction” Total

“It’s part of my routine.” If cigarettes are merely part of your routine, stopping should be relatively easy. One key to success is being aware of every cigarette you smoke. Keeping a smoking diary is a good way to do this.
___ F
___ M
___ S
___ “Habit” Total

“I am a social smoker.” You smoke when people around you are smoking and when you are offered cigarettes. It is important for you to avoid these situations until you are confident about being a nonsmoker. If you cannot avoid a situation in which others are smoking, remind them that you are a nonsmoker.
___ G
___ N
___ T
___ “Social Smoker” Total

Now, what do you do about your score?  It’s time to think about the rest of your life. If you continue to smoke, then you might want to make plans for your loved one’s once you are gone. Is that a harsh statement? Yes, but that is the reality of cigarette smoking. For more information on how you can quit smoking, logon to Smoke Away. It might be the answer you’re looking for. Regardless of whether you use Smoke Away or not, you need to find the best vehicle that will increase your chances of quitting smoking, once and for all! Need more proof? Talk to the users of the Smoke Away Support Site.

No matter how old you are or how long you’ve smoked, quitting will help you live longer. That’s a fact! People who stop smoking before age 50 cut their risk of dying in the next 15 years in half compared with those who continue to smoke. Ex-smokers enjoy a higher quality of life with fewer illnesses from cold and flu viruses, better self-reported health, and reduced rates of bronchitis and pneumonia.

So the makers of Smoke Away thought you might need a little motivation or “reason” to quit. Below are 20 outstanding reasons why you might want to quit in 2008. 

1. Quitting smoking has major and immediate health benefits for men and women of all ages. Benefits apply to people with and without smoking-related disease.

2. Former smokers live longer than people who keep smoking.

3. Quitting smoking decreases the risk of lung cancer, other cancers, heart attack, stroke, and chronic lung disease.

4. Women who stop smoking before pregnancy or during the first 3 to 4 months of pregnancy reduce their risk of having a low birth-weight baby to that of women who never smoked.

5. The health benefits of quitting smoking are far greater than any risks from the small weight gain (usually less than 10 pounds) or any emotional or psychological problems that may follow quitting.

6.  20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure drops.

7.  12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.

8.  2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.

9.  1 to 9 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.

10. 1 year after quitting: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s.

11. 5 years after quitting: Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5 to 15 years after quitting.

12. 10 years after quitting: The lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smoker’s. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decrease.

13. 15 years after quitting: The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.

Immediate Rewards of Quitting

Kicking the tobacco habit offers some benefits that you’ll notice right away and some that will develop over time. These rewards can improve your day-to-day life a great deal.

14. Your breath smells better 

15. Stained teeth get whiter 

16. Bad smelling clothes and hair go away 

17. Your yellow fingers and fingernails disappear 

18. Food tastes better 

19. Your sense of smell returns to normal 

20. Everyday activities no longer leave you out of breath (for example, climbing stairs or light housework).

Now what seems like more of an attractive option? Continuing to smoke? Finding places to smoke? spending your hard earned dollars on a pack of smokes? Coughing, hacking and smelling like ciggs? It would seem to be an easy choice. If you need more convincing, log on to the Smoke Away Support Group website and talk to people who were just like you. Once you’ve done that, then you might want to sidle over to the Smoke Away site and give it a go. Do you need more convincing?

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