Last year of 2001, I started smoking cigarettes. I was influenced by my friends, we went out for party every other night, go bar hopping until the dawn. Would you believe, I smoked that one pack of cigarette just a single night. Then, suddenly I had breathing problem. I can’t breathe normally. I visited our family doctor for check up and confessed about my addiction. Then, I followed what my doctor advised and stop smoking. Year 2003, though It's very hard, but I'm finally non-smoker. I’m proud of myself that I did it. Now, I'm clean and don't have any plan to try it again.

So I researched about it to help others to fight and quit smoking especially those people close to my heart. It's not yet late, you can still save your life. According to the American Heart Association, smoking cigarettes tops the list of major risk factors of our No. 1 killer, heart and blood vessel disease. In fact, almost one-fifth of deaths from heart disease are caused by smoking. The long list of diseases and deaths due to smoking is frightening. Smoking also harms thousands of nonsmokers who are exposed to cigarette smoke, including infants and children. If you smoke, you have a good reason to worry about its effect on your health, your loved ones and others. You could become one of the more than 430,000 smoking related deaths every year. When you quit, you reduce that risk tremendously! No matter how much or how long you've smoked, when you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease and stroke starts to drop. In time your risk will be about the same as if you'd never smoked! How do you quit? Thats the big question, Here’s the steps:

1. list your reasons to quit and read them several times a day. Wrap your cigarette pack with paper and rubber bands. Each time you smoke, write down the time of day, how you feel, and how important that cigarette is to you on a scale of 1 to 5. Rewrap the pack.
2. Keep reading your list of reasons and add to it if you can. Don’t carry matches, and keep your cigarettes out of easy reach. Each day, try to smoke fewer cigarettes, and try not to smoke the ones that aren’t most important.
3. Continue with step two. Set a target date to quit. Don’t buy a new pack until you finish the one you’re smoking. Change brands twice during the week, each time for a brand lower in a tar and nicotine. Try to stop for 48 hours at one time.
4. Quit smoking completely. Throw out all cigarettes and matches. Hide lighters and ashtrays. Stay busy! Go to the movies, exercise, take long walks, go bike riding. Avoid situations and “triggers” you relate with smoking. Find healthy substitutes for smoking. Carry sugarless gum or artificially sweetened mints. Munch carrots or celery sticks. Try doing crafts or other things with your hands. Do deep breathing exercises when you get the urge.

It's hard to stay a nonsmoker once you've had a cigarette, so do everything you can to avoid that "one." The urge to smoke will pass. The first 2 to 5 minutes will be the toughest. If you do smoke after quitting, this doesn't mean you're a smoker again. Do something now to get back on track. Don't punish or blame yourself, tell yourself you're still a nonsmoker. Think about why you smoked and decide what to do the next time it comes up. Sign a contract to stay a nonsmoker.

You know what will happen after you quit, your senses of smell and taste come back. Smoker's cough goes away. You will digest normally. You feel alive and full of energy. You breathe much easier. It's easier to climb stairs. You're free from the mess, smell and burns in clothing. You feel free of "needing" cigarettes. You'll live longer and have less chance of heart disease, stroke, lung disease and cancer.

If you want to learn more visit americanheart.org and StrokeAssociation.org.

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