ANNOUNCER: If you're watching this video, here's a round of applause. You're probably thinking about giving up cigarettes. And it's not easy to do.
JANA KLAUER, MD: You should be congratulated for every week that you go without smoking, because it's a great accomplishment that you're doing and a wonderful health benefit.
ANNOUNCER: According to the surgeon general's report, smoking causes diseases in nearly every organ of the body. But within hours of that last inhaled cigarette the body begins a series of changes for the better. But quitting isn't easy. The first steps?
List your reasons for quitting.
Make a quit date.
Tell friends and family you are quitting.
Stop buying cigarettes.
JANA KLAUER, MD: It's a great challenge that you're about ready to embark on. And it's going to be tough, but it can be done.
ANNOUNCER: But it won't be easy. You've had your last smoke. And you still want to smoke. Badly.
That's the addictive nicotine your body is craving.
JANA KLAUER, MD: The withdrawal symptoms from smoking can be very troublesome indeed. And they are irritability, you can have a headache, you can be very short-tempered, you can be unpleasant to be around.
ANNOUNCER: Some people replace that urge for a cigarette with food. Before you quit, protect yourself with a diet-friendly kitchen.
JANA KLAUER, MD: If you have nutritious snacks, if you have plenty of fruits and vegetables and cheeses and yogurt around, fill yourself up with those and not with cookies and candy bars.
ANNOUNCER: If the scales start creeping up, take action.
JANA KLAUER, MD: There is excess weight with cessation of smoking, but the best way of addressing it is through exercise.
ANNOUNCER: When you're on the go, carry around other things to put in your mouth besides a cigarette. Sugarless gum or hard candy will do.
Giving up cigarettes is also easier when you avoid things that signal the need for a smoke. So be prepared to distract yourself from cigarette triggers.
JANA KLAUER, MD: The things that can trigger a craving for smoking are situations. Often, you're used to having it with your morning coffee or maybe you have a cigarette at a cocktail party. I would say switch around your routine a little bit. Have that coffee on the way to work.
Or at a cocktail party, have a large glass of San Pellegrino. I would avoid alcohol, because often alcohol can reduce your resolve.
ANNOUNCER: Getting by with a little help from your friends is another route to giving up cigarettes.
JANA KLAUER, MD: There are certain benefits of stopping smoking with a friend. You can positively reinforce one another. I've seen a lot of benefits to that.
The only caveat I would give to someone who's thinking of doing that is, if your friend fails, are you going to use your friend's inability to stop right then as a reason not to go on?
I wouldn't suggest relying solely on that friend. I would suggest a group. There are a lot of wonderful groups, Smoke Enders, or seeing a health professional who deals in that.
ANNOUNCER: There are aids that can help you cut out cigarettes, some that can be bought over-the-counter, and some need a doctor's prescription.
JANA KLAUER, MD: The techniques that I recommend when you're stopping smoking are nicotine replacement, either in the form of gum or a patch and the gum is more effective than the patch. Prescription medication from a doctor.
ANNOUNCER: But these aids aren't the entire solution.
JANA KLAUER, MD: They all should be combined with behavioral therapy so that you're either in a group of people who are stopping smoking or you're talking actively to a health professional about that.
ANNOUNCER: While it may sound harsh, probably the best way to quit is to do it cold turkey. And once you quit, don't smoke, not even a puff.
JANA KLAUER, MD: There's no benefit to tapering down. Studies have shown that people who taper down go right back up. So I do not recommend tapering; I recommend just stopping.
ANNOUNCER: It's never easy to give up a habit, no matter how bad we know it is. But it can be done. 44 million Americans have already quit smoking. And even if you've tried before. Try again.
JANA KLAUER, MD: You've made a decision; now you have to take action. So whatever that action may be, whether it's joining a group or it's seeing a doctor or whatever it is that you need to do, just do it.