ANNOUNCER: Susan is planning her fourth attempt to quit smoking. She wants it to be the last.
Susan, Has Decided to Quit Smoking: I'm doing other things now, going to the gym, which I've learned helps me not want a cigarette afterwards because I feel good when I come out of the gym, and I don't want to be putting something in my lungs. I chew on straws. When I want the oral fixation of having a cigarette, I'll just chew on a straw or drink water.
ANNOUNCER: Experts say having a strategy is the key to success.
Donna Shelley, MD, Smoking Cessation Specialist: One of the biggest mistakes smokers make is saying, I'm going to stop smoking today, and deciding sort of spur of the moment that they're going to quit without a plan. A plan is critical.
ANNOUNCER: Knowing what triggers your habit is also critical.
Donna Shelley, MD, Smoking Cessation Specialist: So you might get up and smoke a cigarette when you're drinking your coffee in the morning, or it might be linked to actually your commute to work.
Susan, Has Decided to Quit Smoking: After a big meal is when I would smoke a cigarette, to digest. Now I finish it with some water, or I've gotten into just a little piece of something sweet, tends to finish off my meal now.
ANNOUNCER: Experts also recommend medication to help with the nicotine addiction. They say it's a myth that nicotine itself causes cancer.
Donna Shelley, MD, Smoking Cessation Specialist: Nicotine is not cancer causing. The nicotine in the gum and the patch, the nicotine in the medications, the nicotine in the cigarette is not the cancer-causing agent. It's all the other chemicals.
ANNOUNCER: Right now, Susan is not planning to use a nicotine replacement. But she has a strategy to deal with the cravings.
Susan, Has Decided to Quit Smoking: If I don't smoke a cigarette right away and I just let it pass and do something else with my time. Especially if I'm at work, I'll just go answer e-mails or I'll go do something, keep really busy. It'll go away.
Donna Shelley, MD, Smoking Cessation Specialist: If anybody says it's easy to quit, it's not. And I don't like to tell smokers it is, because they know it's not. But it absolutely is possible. Every smoker can quit smoking. They just need to get the help, the right kinds of help, and they can succeed.
ANNOUNCER: Thanks for joining us on today's Once Daily.