The new reality: quitting smoking
Smokers will Kick Butt for Knowledge Network
If this is January, it must be National Stop-Smoking Week. So smokers -- either butt out or hide out, especially today, Weedless Wednesday, the date health organizations have picked to jump-start smokers into quitting.
This year, people who puff are getting even less of a break than usual, as the Knowledge Network has devoted an entire reality-style series called Kick Butt to the issue. Today, five Lower-Mainland smokers will butt out their last cigarettes and try to survive four months of having their every move monitored by friends, relatives, experts -- and cameras -- all without a taking drag.
Will this be as much fun as Survivor or The Amazing Race? The series, five weekly primetime half hours, doesn't start airing until May 3, but people dying to know could kill some of the boredom of waiting by starting their own quit-smoking project.
Preparation is the key, says David Aboussafy, director of the smoking-cessation program for Vancouver Coastal Health and Kick Butt smoking-cessation coach. "You need an action plan to deal with the cravings," he says. "This can involve drinking water, keeping your hands busy, taking deep breaths and substituting clean nicotine for cigarettes: nicotine gum, patch, inhaler."
Of course the Kick Butt participants are getting extra perks: lots of attention and support (including their own personal director and two-person crew) and rewards, such as dinner at a smoke-free restaurant, workouts with personal trainers and a West Coast-vacation weekend as they reach each goal. Everyone else has to resort to the usual suspects. The bottom line is to learn from past mistakes and don't give up, says Aboussafy. People who manage to quit have made an average of seven serious attempts before they succeed -- at least partly because, as testing has shown, nicotine is as addictive as cocaine.
"Smoking is a serious addiction," he says. "If you haven't been able to quit, it's not because you're weak." Still, much of the struggle lies in your mind, your habits and stresses. "In smokers across the board, people have an idea of the health risks but don't believe they can quit. But you can do it. Keep trying, keep preparing -- and don't get discouraged."
For more smoking-cessation info, go to www.vch.ca, www.gosmoke
free.ca or call the Smoker's Help Line at 1-877-455-2233.