Smoking cigarettes is linked to one in five deaths in the U.S., including those from exposure to secondhand smoke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is nearly half a million deaths yearly due to nicotine addiction. For every smoking-related death, 30 more people suffer at least one or more chronic or serious ailment, the American Lung Association reports. These are the disheartening numbers that the CDC confronts in its latest public education campaign, in which former smokers on camera divulge how smoking has crippled their health. The ads and YouTube videos are meant to encourage smokers to quit with “scared straight” real stories. They offer the hotline 800-QUITNOW and the encouraging closer, “You can quit.” Here are some practical tips offered by Tobacco Free Florida:
- Drink lots of water. Make sure your fridge is always well stocked and that you take water when you’re on the go.
- Have gum or mints handy for when cravings kick in.
- Get your teeth cleaned and/or whitened.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee and soda and avoid alcoholic drinks.
- Enjoy healthy snacks like carrots and celery, fruits and sugar-free snacks.
- Keep your hands and mouth occupied with cinnamon sticks, toothpicks or straws.
- Wash or dry-clean your clothes and have your car cleaned inside and out to get rid of the smell of cigarettes.
- Have the carpet, draperies, bed sheets and other fabrics inside your home cleaned and deodorized to remove the lingering smell of cigarette smoke.
- For a time, at least, stay away from places where there will be smoking — bars and outdoor smoking areas of restaurants.
- Become physically active, whether it’s at a gym, with friends or solo. Something as simple and easy as walking helps.
On Twitter, the CDC campaign tweets out #quittips, as do others: “Craving? Carry around thinly sliced carrot flowers to nibble on when you get a craving. “ More support and tips for quitting smoking can be found here.