Tips for quitting tobacco

In January, thousands of tobacco users across Colorado will choose to quit smoking or chewing as their New Year's resolution, according to the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.

"We know it's difficult to quit, but we also know a large majority of smokers want to quit," said Liz Shugart, Nurse Practitioner at the Northwest Colorado Community Health Center. "With the free nicotine patches and coaching service of the Colorado QuitLine, this is the year to make that resolution happen. A healthier lifestyle could be just around the corner for you and your family.

"Despite some misconceptions, the patches do not cause cancer. They are safe, effective and simply lessen your cravings for the tobacco."

To help make that quit attempt last a lifetime, the VNA recommends the follow five tips.

• Set a quit date and call the Colorado Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW. You'll receive a free supply of nicotine patches and a customized plan from an experienced quit coach. Services are available in English and Spanish.

• Enlist your family, friends and co-workers in your quit plan. Tell them you are trying to quit, you need their encouragement and ask them not to smoke or chew around you.

• Write your goals down on paper. Tape them on your doors, mirrors, refrigerators and in your car to remind you why you are quitting and to help keep you motivated. This also could include what you will buy with the money you are saving from not purchasing tobacco. For a pack-a-day smoker, this amounts to nearly $1,500 a year.

• Throw away all your tobacco products, including your packs, ashtrays, items with tobacco logos and lighters, so they don't remind you of smoking or chewing.

• Go for a walk outside every day. Exercise will help lower your stress, increase your endurance and help you maintain your weight during the quitting process.

The Colorado Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or www.coquitline.org is operated by National Jewish Medical and Research Center under contract to the State Tobacco Education & Prevention Partnership. It is a free telephone coaching service that offers a free supply of the patch and connects smokers with trained coaches who help them create a customized quit plan. This service is available to both English- and Spanish-speaking Colorado residents. The QuitLine coaches are available from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday; and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The service also is available for the deaf and hard-of-hearing at TTY: 800-659-2656.

Tobacco-free quit kits for smokers and chewers are available at the VNA office in Craig at 745 Russell St.

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