One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to quit smoking but it’s also one of the most difficult to keep.
“Most people will try to quit smoking and fail,” admitted Ken Ranta, regional director for the Canadian Cancer Society. “For those who have already fallen off the wagon, hey, keep trying.”
For local resident Brent Burghardt, a very neat driveway has been the direct result of his resolution to butt out.
“It’s dusted and polished,” he laughed. “I have to chew gum or do something but it’s going great. My nerves are still normal, I’m still normal.”
Burghardt has managed to knock off from smoking a pack-and-a-half a day to four cigarettes–with the ultimate goal of becoming a non-smoker altogether.
“It’s hard but I’m going to do it,” he vowed. “I’m just looking for stuff to do to keep my mind off it.”
Most of those trying to kick the habit temporarily pick up alternative vices.
“I went through about five packs of Lifesavers and I can’t even count how many packs of gum . . . and crackers,” noted resident August McRae. “It’s a hand-to-mouth fixation–I had to have something in my hand.”
After smoking her last cigarette just before the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, McRae said it was tough to begin with. But now 10 days into her resolution, she believes she’s over the worst of it.
“The first few days were tough to get through but I think I made it. I think I’m officially a non-smoker,” she said.
Part of the challenge of kicking a bad habit rests on family members who have to live with their spouse’s, parent’s, or sibling’s volatile moods.
“It’s a challenge, a test of my patience,” laughed Burghardt’s partner, Maureen Calder. “One good thing about Brent is he doesn’t usually stay mad for long.”
Fort Frances resident Sandi Westover’s family also has had to be patient while she battles her pack-a-day habit.
“I felt pretty sorry for my kids yesterday,” she admitted last week. “I’ve been staying really, really busy. I try to stay away from things like coffee that I associate with [smoking].”
Because quitting smoking is on the top of the list of New Year’s resolutions, the Canadian Cancer Society has set up a Smokers’ Helpline to help people succeed.
“Basically it offers a multi-faceted approach to help them quit smoking,” said Ranta. “You get a live person, and it’s a number that when called will open a lot of tools to individually tailor a package to help them stop smoking.”
The Smokers’ Helpline can be reached at 1-877-513-5333 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. (CST) Monday to Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (CST) on Fridays.
The Canadian Cancer Society is promoting its line for those who made New Year’s resolutions as well as in preparation for national non-smoking week Jan. 15-20, highlighted by “Weedless Wednesday” on Jan. 17.
“Smoking is the most preventable cause of cancer. If people stop smoking, they will immediately reduce their risk of getting most types of cancer,” Ranta stressed.
From Smokers’ Helpline
Imagine an activity so dangerous that it claims the lives of half of all those who participate in it.
Those are the odds for Ontario’s almost two million smokers. Roughly half of them, or about one million people, likely will die of smoking-related illnesses.
Faced with this reality, more and more smokers are trying to quit. Many will make an attempt during National Non-Smoking Week (Jan. 15-21) and on “Weedless Wednesday” (Jan. 17).
But quitting smoking is not easy.
This year, smokers in Ontario have an ally. The Smokers’ Helpline, a toll-free service operated by the Canadian Cancer Society, is ready to assist them in overcoming their tobacco dependency.
“Certainly, National Non-Smoking Week helps to raise awareness about the issue. But quitting smoking is a process, not a one-week event. Many who try to quit during the week and then relapse become very discouraged, and that’s not productive,” noted Kevin McDonald of the Smokers’ Helpline.
Rather, smokers should understand that it usually takes several attempts to become smoke-free and that set-backs are a normal part of the quitting process.
“Don’t pin all your hopes on a single day and then try to quit cold turkey. You may be setting yourself up for disappointment,” McDonald warned.
By calling the Smokers’ Helpline and talking with a trained quit specialist in advance, smokers will be better prepared and more likely to succeed in their quit attempts.
In fact, research shows that those who use a telephone support service such as the Smokers’ Helpline are twice as likely to succeed as those who rely on self-help methods.
Callers to the Smokers’ Helpline are provided with free information, advice, and support on a confidential basis. The service is available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday (EST).
The toll-service can be reached from anywhere in the province by calling 1-877-513-5333.
Funding for this program has been provided in part by the Ontario Tobacco Strategy, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.