Smoking: It's no secret it's terrible for your health. But smoking's highly addictive nature makes quitting seem like an insurmountable challenge to many people. The Canadian Community Health Survey found that 17.7 per cent of the population smoked either daily or occasionally in 2015. That's 5.3 million people putting themselves at grave risk of heart disease, lung cancer, stroke and other severe health issues. 

If your resolution is to quit smoking, then you've taken the first step toward improving your well-being and adding years back to your life. It won't be easy, but the things that are truly worth doing never are. We've compiled tips below to help you quit smoking for good:

Think about your reasons for quitting
To make it more likely you'll commit to quitting smoking, think hard about all the reasons why you want to stop. Maybe you want to be a healthy, active grandparent, or are concerned about secondhand smoke affecting your spouse. Put these reasons down on paper - Quit Now Canada recommends being as specific and personal as possible in your reasons. Place this list somewhere you can see it every day, such as on your bathroom mirror or on the refrigerator. You could also keep the list with you on your smartphone and refer to it when you feel the temptation to smoke. 

smokingYou can kick the habit.

Overcome mental roadblocks
Another helpful part of the process of quitting smoking is recognizing any opinions, assumptions and convictions you hold that lead you to smoke or resist quitting. Tobacco Free Quebec calls these "mental roadblocks," and has a helpful list of them on its website. Some common mental roadblocks are:

  • I'm afraid of being too stressed if I don't smoke. 
  • The dangers of smoking are exaggerated. 
  • I've tried everything and nothing worked. 

The organization goes through each roadblock and debunks it, giving you the knowledge you need to overcome them. By identifying any personal hang-ups or attitudes you have toward quitting, you can learn strategies to change your outlook. 

Reach out to your community for support
Quitting smoking does not have to be a solitary, lonely endeavour. There are many people out there just like you who are on the same journey and dealing with similar struggles. That's why you should lean on your community for support. Workshops, classes, free meet-ups and other community events can help you break your smoking habit while benefiting from a positive and inclusive environment. Look for online groups and social networks that can connect you with support and helpful resources. 

Know that a gradual reduction makes a difference
You may want to quit smoking cold turkey, and while some people can, others may have a difficult time staying on track. Understand that even a gradual reduction in smoking can make a big difference to your health. Tobacco Free Quebec shares these statistics:

  • After just 20 minutes of quitting smoking, blood pressure and pulse slow to a normal rate and body temperature returns to normal.
  • After just 8 hours, the amount of carbon monoxide and nicotine in the blood is cut in half. 
  • After just 24 hours, the body is completely free of carbon monoxide, and the lungs start expelling residue from smoke. 

While the ultimate goal is to completely quit smoking, this can take time. Remembering that major health benefits occur immediately after you put down your cigarette, and that these benefits add up, can help you resist the urge to fall off track. 

Replace a cigarette with something else 
One of the most common issues that people who try to quit smoking face is being accustomed to always having a cigarette in their mouth. Instead of a cigarette, you can chew gum, hold your toothpick between your teeth, brush your teeth or eat a healthy snack when you feel the urge to light up. 

Perhaps the most important advice of all: Keep going. Remember that your resolution is not to quit smoking on the first try, to but to pick yourself up and try again if you fail. That determination is what makes all the difference. You can do it!