Who says quitters never win?

A new program, “Quitter in You,” supports N.H. smokers in their efforts to kick the habit

Those who smoke can give themselves and their families the best possible start to the New Year by quitting smoking in 2014. It really is the gift that keeps giving.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire and the American Lung Association have teamed up to offer “Quitter in You,” an effort to support smokers in the Granite State in their efforts to kick the habit. As a primary care provider, I tell my patients who are smokers that past attempts at quitting are not failures, but normal and necessary steps to quitting for good. Now is a great time to try again.

There is no doubt that quitting smoking is among the most popular new year’s resolutions, but one that is hard to keep. That’s why quitters need to make a plan and set a date. They also need support and love from family and friends. Also vital in this effort are health care providers, trained cessation counselors, co-workers, and even peers who are going through the quitting process. Through the Quitter in You campaign, you can call or chat with a friendly and supportive cessation counselor or join the Freedom From Smoking Online program.

In addition to quitting, three other resolutions will also improve one’s personal health and the health of those around them.

1. Make your home smoke free today. Secondhand smoke is lethal. Do not smoke in your home and do not permit anyone else to smoke inside.

2. Eat healthier. Fruits and vegetables are great healthy snacks. Grab an apple or a carrot instead of a cigarette.

3. Increase your physical activity. Taking a walk, hitting the gym, or riding your bike instead of taking a smoking break is truly a win-win.

Fifty years ago, U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry issued the first ever Report on Smoking and Health. Since then, smoking prevalence among U.S. adults has been reduced by half, thanks largely to a comprehensive approach that has included tobacco education and cessation programs, new medicines to help smokers quit, and advocacy to increase cigarette taxes and promote smoke-free public places. Despite these positive steps forward, nearly one in five Americans still smoke. More can and must be done to help all smokers end their addiction.

Because every person is different, each must find the right combination of techniques to help them quit. By looking back at previous times they’ve tried to quit, smokers can figure out what helped them stay away from cigarettes and what they might want to do differently next time. If they keep trying and stay motivated, all smokers will be able to end their addiction and begin a new, healthier stage in their life.

Making a new year’s resolution is easy; keeping one is the harder part. That’s why quitterinyou.org is a great informational source with a wealth of resources that include individual counseling, online programs, group classes and written educational materials.

Dr. Richard Lafleur, medical director for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire, also practices internal medicine at Southern New Hampshire Internal Medicine in Derry.

Categories: Opinion