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6 Quit-Smoking Tips for COPD

How to quit smoking, starting today, if you have COPD.
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3. Be Prepared

Before you quit, make a plan. Quitting on a whim, good intentioned as it may be, is rarely successful, Douglas says. Her advice:

  • Set a quit day. Pick a day three or so weeks out and mark it on your calendar. That will be your first day without tobacco.
  • Make a list. Write down your reasons for quitting. For people with COPD, ‘Breathe easier' will likely be at the top.
  • Set up a reward system. Get ready to celebrate your smoke-free milestones -- the first 48 hours, the first week, the first month, and so on. Your reward might be new music, dinner out... anything that honors your efforts. And remember: You can afford those awards because you are not buying cigarettes. "We have people who save that money and put it toward a vacation," Douglas says.
  • Know your triggers and avoid them. "Behaviors become habits, and those habits can be associated with smoking," Douglas says. For example, if you always smoke with your morning coffee, make a change: Have your first cup on the way to work, perhaps in a coffee shop where smoking is not permitted. "Little changes like that can make a big difference," Douglas says.
  • Pick alternatives. Make a list of 10 things you can do instead of smoking. When you have the urge to smoke, pick something off the list -- call a friend, take a walk -- and do that instead.

4. Whatever Works

There are lots of resources to help you quit -- such as behavioral therapies, quit-smoking hotlines, and medications. Ramsdell says they all have about the same success rate. "There's a 20% chance with any of them that you will stop and stay smoke free," he says. "The good news is that each time you make an attempt, you have a one in five chance of quitting for good."

He often advises his patients to start by calling 800-NO-BUTTS, which is California's free quit-smoking help number. Every state has its own, and they are all equally effective. For one in your area, call 800-QUITNOW (800-784-8669).

A mix of counseling, education, and medications (such as nicotine patches and gum) works for many people, Folan says. She also says it's essential that you talk with your doctor about your smoking, because that may make you more likely to give quitting a try.

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