By Denise Pinkney
Quitting smoking is one of the hardest habits to break. That’s probably why tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in North Dakota. Each year, 877 North Dakotans die prematurely due to the effects of smoking.
Did you know?
- Annual health care costs in North Dakota directly caused by smoking are $247 million.
- Residents’ state and federal tax burden from smoking-caused government expenditures is $571 per household.
- Smoking-caused productivity losses in North Dakota total $192 million.
The American Cancer Society encourages smokers to use the Great American Smokeout date of Nov. 15 to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking by Nov. 15.
Here are some tips to help if you want to quit:
- See a physician or your workplace health representative, or go online for proven programs and tools to ease quitting.
- Keep your eye on a healthier lifestyle, which starts improving the minute you quit smoking or chewing. Sign up for an athletic event or join a sports league.
- When you stop buying tobacco, start setting aside at least a portion of that money and earmark it for a vacation or shopping spree.
- Focus on being totally free to work, play, live, travel and spend time with your friends and family — not the hassle of stepping outside and missing opportunities.
- Switch to water or other unsweetened beverages instead of alcohol or coffee. Take a different route to work. Take a brisk walk. Use sugarless gum, hard candy, raw vegetables or sunflower seeds.
And if you have a friend or family member who is trying to planning to quit tobacco, here’s how to offer support:
- Listen to their plans, struggles and achievements.
- Don’t minimize their urges.
- Encourage them to spend time with non- and ex-smokers.
- Offer to and take late-night or early morning phone calls or text messages; respond with support
- Help them plan things in smoke-free settings.
Denise Pinkney works in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.