Quit Smoking and Start Living!

To a longtime smoker, smoking is more than just lighting a cigarette. It is a ritual, a reward, a past time, a close friend, a pick me up, a thought provoking moment, an ice breaker in social situations, a comfort when lonely, and something to look forward to when the alarm rings. The act of smoking is woven through every aspect of what you do. Putting down that last cigarette can leave a void so large, many quitters are at a loss as to how to move forward. The good news is, you can move forward in more ways than you ever thought possible!

Look at all those moments in your life you gave away to smoking. Not anymore! You have a whole new experience ahead of you, and a chance to fill it with everything you have been missing. Embrace the possibilities that come with change. Find your interests. Experiment, reach out, and enjoy. When the smoke clears, there is a beautiful world out there!

You can get started today by identifying the essence of your smoking moments. Answer the question 'What do I feel I am getting from this cigarette?’ for each cigarette you smoke. Chances are good that your answers will be reward, comfort, and treat/pick me up, habit, fun or relaxation. Once you know why you are smoking each cigarette you smoke, you can fill the void so you do not miss cigarettes. Let go of the old tapes playing in your mind that tell you smoking is the only option. Be open to trying new things so you can enjoy the smoke-free you. By filling the void with other behaviors, your emotional needs will be met and your routines altered to support a nonsmoking lifestyle. You will be adding much needed relaxation, reward and fun experiences to your life!

If you are not sure how to come up with ideas, think back to when you were young. Did you like being outside, inside, or in a group? Did you build things, read, bake or draw? Were you the leader of your friends, a lone bicycler, or in your room reading? Did you skate, ski, play music, play ball, go camping, hiking or love to sing? We begin our lives without limitation, and often those original interests are keys to who we really are. Writing, drawing, biking, jogging, baking, dancing, leading a meeting, starting a club, volunteering, fostering, taking lessons, taking a class and other activities can enhance your life and open new doors for you. These interests may have been long forgotten, or simply took a back burner to work, responsibility, and day to day chores. When you quit smoking, give yourself the freedom to spend that extra time and money (re)discovering things you would like to do! At the end of our lives, few look back and were glad they kept their floors mopped or the garage tidy. Times enjoyed, people loved, unique experiences, joy and special moments will be what matter most. So put down the cigarettes, get out there and live a life you enjoy and cherish. You are worth it; KTQ!

Vikki CTTS-M

Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist 

Emotions, Coping, And Your Quit!

Life can be complicated and unpredictable. Smoking may have been an anchor in the storm, the friend who never left you, a reward on mundane days, or your escape from unpleasant situations. The emotional attachment to the act of smoking is real, long lived and warrants further consideration. Let’s take a look at this important aspect of your Quit, so you can reflect on ways to move towards greater health and wellbeing.

  • Celebrate You

Quitting is all about You taking charge of your health, your choices and your life. You deserve to enjoy your life and be free of old habits that no longer serve you. Think of how happy and confident you will feel as a nonsmoker. Celebrate your freedom from smoking!

  • Stress Happens

Everyone experiences stress and disappointment. Accept this, and learn new ways to relax and unwind that enhance your day to day life experience. Many people spend a lot of time worrying about things that never happen! Stressing on what might happen zaps your energy and joy. Stay in the here and now! Focus on what you can do, and take action. Action reduces stress and increases self confidence. Deal with complications the moment they arise, and let the rest go. Breathe in deep, exhale slowly, and count your blessings. Enjoy all the things around you that you love and care about! 

  • For Better Or Worse

Any lifestyle change has it's ups and downs. Moving, changing jobs, beginning or ending relationships, changes in health status, diet and exercise programs - the list goes on! There is often a grieving process for what was left behind, and that is very normal. Journaling, writing a good bye letter to your old life, and allowing feelings of grief to run it's course are a few helpful ways to cope.  It takes time, patience and practice before the new feels as comfortable as the old once did. The secret is you must Keep Going in order to get to the comfortable, successful part! As long as you keep moving forward, you will get to where you want to be. For better or worse, just keep going no matter what happens.    

  • Seek Joy

What do you like to do? What inspires you? What makes you laugh? What makes you feel important, special and loved? Seeking joy is the best way to find it! Take time every day to do some things that matter to you and make you happy. Life is too short to spend on autopilot completing tasks. Enjoy yourself!

  • May The Quit Be With You!

Surround yourself with support and encouragement from others. Quitting smoking is an exciting and wonderful change you are making for yourself, and there are plenty of cheerleaders standing by! Reach out! gather your support network at home, at work, on line, at the gym, and everywhere you go. The more people who care about your quit success, the better! 

Stopping smoking can be an emotional process. Knowing what to expect, and learning how to navigate your feelings effectively will help you live happily and successfully as a nonsmoker. Keep going, and KTQ!


Vikki CTTS-M 

Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist 

Smoking and Tobacco: Destroyers of Good Oral Health

It's common knowledge that smoking is bad for your health, especially your heart and lungs. Are you aware of the consequences of smoking and tobacco use on your oral health? Your gums and teeth are the first to bear the onslaught of heat and caustic chemicals when you light up that cigarette. Not only does smoking paint a not so pretty picture, but it also increases your risk of oral cancers and other health problems linked to dental disease. Smoking doesn't stand alone in destroying oral health - all tobacco products are harmful. 

Smoking and Those Pearly Whites

Smoking can put a damper on your smile. Smoking stains or discolors teeth, causes bad breath and can lead to tooth loss, all of which affects self-image and confidence. It's the nicotine and tar in tobacco that stain the teeth and eventually builds up in the pores of the enamel, causing tooth discoloration.

The noticeable 'smoker's breath' is from smoke particles and chemicals in tobacco smoke. The heat from smoking dries out the mouth and allows bacteria to grow.

Tobacco smoke reduces blood flow and is toxic to gum tissue. If you smoke or use smokeless tobacco you have a significantly greater risk of getting periodontal (gum) disease - a disease that destroys soft tissue and bone supporting the teeth. With gum disease, pockets form around the teeth and bacteria resides causing infection and inflammation, eventually leading to tooth loss.

Any area in your body that has direct contact with the chemicals in smoke and tobacco is at a higher risk for cancer. For this reason you need to be aware of any changes or sores that persist in your mouth. It's especially important if you smoke or use smokeless tobacco to keep up with regular dentist cleanings and visits, but it's even more vital that you quit for good!

Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body

Research is showing that keeping your gums healthy is good for the rest of your body. Infections in the mouth cause inflammation elsewhere in the body and are linked to heart disease, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and lung infections. If you have diabetes you are more at risk to develop periodontal disease, which can raise blood sugar and cause other complications. It doesn't stop there; poor oral health is also linked to Alzheimer’s disease and low weight or premature babies.

Lifestyle has a lot to do with your oral health. Make healthy choices in your diet, keep flossing and brushing, and if you smoke make quitting your number one priority. Quitting smoking is a lifestyle change that can only benefit your overall health.

Keep Smiling and Keep the Quit!


Thirdhand Smoke And Your Quit

Have you ever entered a room and smelled that stale cigarette smell? That was the leftover residue from previously smoked butts, the byproduct of secondhand smoke called thirdhand smoke.

Tar, nicotine, and the chemicals in smoke cling onto indoor surfaces such as furniture, upholstery, carpets and walls. In closed spaces, the air pollutants from tobacco smoke enter your lungs and irritate them. Tobacco residue not only lingers on surfaces, it also remains on fingers, teeth, clothing and hair. It is important to understand that both secondhand and thirdhand smoke can damage your health, but that thirdhand smoke affects the environment long after the smoker has left. There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.

Thirdhand smoke affects the quality of the air we breathe.  Tobacco smoke contains 7,000 chemicals, including many carcinogens. Research shows that even after five hours, tobacco particles remain present in the air. They eventually join other indoor pollutants to create a toxic mix. People who come in contact with thirdhand smoke by touching, ingesting or inhaling any of the particles, are increasing their risk of developing a tobacco-related health problem. Children and pets are particularly susceptible to this invisible coating of tar and toxins. Tobacco odor can also be a relapse trigger for most ex-smokers.

How to eliminate thirdhand smoke from your environment

The best way to eliminate thirdhand smoke from your environment is to create a nonsmoking space for yourself, and then staunchly defend it from smokers.  Layers of residue from thirdhand smoke accumulate over time, and the combination of particles and tar is difficult to remove. Outlined below are suggestions you can add to your quit plan to eliminate thirdhand smoke from your space:

  • Make your home, car, office a smoke-free environment.

  • Wipe down the tables and other surfaces where you used to smoke.
  • Throw away any clothes, tablecloths, fabric that contains heavy tobacco smell.  Replace with fresh new items.

  • Have your car professionally cleaned.  Most professional car wash centers use professional cleaning products that help eliminate stubborn tobacco odor. 

  • If your budget permits, replace your carpet or have your carpet professionally cleaned.

  • Stay away from designated smoking areas.  

  • Consider using an air purifier to clean the air in a room.

Removing the thirdhand smoke from your environment is an excellent way to begin a quit, for you and all your loved ones.  Your home will be freer from toxins and tobacco tar, and feel fresh and clean.  Stay focused and remember that quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your health!  Keep the quit!


Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist

I Quit Smoking For Mary! Or Did I?

I quit smoking seventy-two days ago, and for the first time I'm not sure I'm going to make it.

I smoked proudly for fifteen years. I started as an occasional smoker, but over time I needed more and more nicotine (I later learned that most addicts develop dose tolerance to their addictive substances). By the time I quit, I was smoking three packs per day, every day. I smoked during meetings, while walking or driving or eating meals. I woke up in the middle of the night to have a cigarette, and even kept one burning in an ashtray on the toilet tank while I showered, or on the bed stand while making love. I considered myself a smoker's smoker, and couldn't imagine life without cigarettes. Until I met Mary, that is.

Mary was cool, confident, smart and lovely, certainly out of my league, and  I immediately fell in love with her. I had to have her. There was one problem with Mary, though -- she was a non-smoker. And not  the self-righteous, moralistic type of non-smoker I'd been avoiding for years, either. No, Mary vehemently and absolutely hated tobacco, with a passion I'd never seen. Tobacco had killed her mother, and she held a big-time grudge against it. She made no bones about her refusal to date any smoker, ever.

My self-image hung in the balance. If I entertained any notion at all of hooking up with Mary, I would have to quit smoking. Telling myself that I'd stay quit only long enough to win her heart, and resume smoking sometime after that, I went online to look for quit-smoking info. I registered at a quit-smoking website, picked a quit-smoking date, and announced to everyone that I was quitting -- including Mary, who hugged me at the news!

Being a heavy smoker, I figured I was in for a rough nicotine detox, but decided to quit cold-turkey, anyway. Partially because I wanted to be tough about quitting, but also because it cost $50 for a hundred count of nicotine gum. $50! Never mind that a carton of smokes runs almost twice that; I needed them. Besides, the drama of a severe withdrawal could maybe get me some special attention from Mary... .

Day One wasn't bad at all. I fidgeted a lot, and drummed my fingers madly against things. I kept putting my hands to my mouth, expecting something to be there for me. I sucked on a ton of Lifesavers, but had no overwhelming urge to smoke. Quitting seemed do-able.

Day Two  was a little more intense. Mary called to cheer me on and tell me how proud she was of me. My nose started running a bit, and I developed a headache. Felt like I might be coming down with a cold, but suffered only a few severe cravings to smoke. Despite the physical discomfort, and trouble getting to sleep at night, I thought that people were making too big a deal out of quitting smoking.

By Day Three I was a space cadet. I laughed uncontrollably, as if I was stoned on acid. Colors seemed very intense, and my brain raced wildly with bizarre thoughts. (My doctor later said I was experiencing a sustained rush of new oxygen to the brain). My whole body ached, and someone at the quit-smoking website wrote that I'd probably contracted the 'Quit Flu'. I obsessed non-stop about either smoking or not smoking, and became painfully aware of every lit cigarette within sight or smell.

And then a blow to my motivation, on Day Four: Mary left the country with her family, and wouldn't be back for two months! So much for her shoulder to lean on while I quit. A part of me whispered, "You can smoke now and re-quit later, and she'll never know," but I decided to soldier on and have more smoke-free weeks quit under my belt when she returned.

By Day Twenty I was already feeling better. I still wasn't sleeping much (my sleep patterns wouldn't stabilize for another month or two), and I was coughing up a lot of brown goo, but the flu-like symptoms were gone and I was going hours at a time without thinking about a cigarette.

And so it went. I sailed through my quit, noting one surprise benefit of quitting after another. Sleep deprived or not, I felt more alert and like I was really in my body. I took morning walks, and during one of them I suddenly wanted to run. It was exhilarating! I joined the Y, and started lifting weights. I wondered why people seemed to be wearing stronger cologne and perfume lately, until I realized that my sense of smell was returning. When I did have a smoking urge, I logged in to my quit-site and distracted myself. I finally stopped spitting up old lung tar, too, and noted that my wallet always had a lot more cash in it. Why had I never tried quitting before? Doing so had triggered changes in many areas of my life; I even made a couple of new ex-smoking friends, and began thinking of myself as an ex-smoker.

Until this morning, that it is. Mary got back from her long family vacation and introduced me to Mark, her new boyfriend. That was bad. Worse, he reeked of cigarettes! Filthy, stinking cigarettes. I was stunned. After a short, awkward silence, I blurted out something like, "Glad to meet you and by the way I'm still not smoking," and beat a hasty retreat.  I felt betrayed. What was Mary's problem? Why would she sell out her values for love? How could she do this to me, after I'd changed my smoking life to be with her (though I never did tell her that, truth be told)? My thoughts turned to smoking. "I'll show her," I resolved. "Screw this quit."

So here I am on Day Seventy-two, and my motivation for quitting is gone. I'm at the convenience store, counting out bills for a pack of my old deadly comfort. In walks one of my new ex-smoking friends. She smiles, sees the pack and the wallet in my hands, and looks at me, silent. "They're not for me," I reply to her unasked question. In that moment I get some clarity. Cigarettes really are not for me, not any more. I'm about to punish myself because I'm upset with Mary? How can I blame her for selling out to follow her heart, anyway? Hadn't I sold out my smoking values to follow mine? Hasn't that been working out pretty well for me?

My quit isn't about Mary, and it never was. She may have been my inspiration to change, but it was my decision and my effort that got me to this place. The benefits of my new, healthier lifestyle are mine alone. I've earned them, and I'm not going to throw them away just because I got my expectations dashed.  

I hand the cigarettes back to the clerk and buy a roll of Lifesavers, instead. I walk out of the store with my friend, still smoke-free. I didn't get the girl in the end, but I got a lot more than I expected. Seems I'm the fish I've been trying to catch all along (and quitting smoking was the hook).


Alan Q, CTTS-M