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2020 is your year to quit smoking

2020 is not only a new year, but a whole new decade. If you’re a smoker, it’s very possible that this is the year that you’re finally going to quit smoking for good. Hey, why not? 2020 is a nice round number, and there’s no better time than now to make a fresh start, start making healthier choices, and start feeling better about yourself.

The fact is you’re a little late to make this a new year’s resolution, but if you didn’t already decide to quit when the ball dropped on December 31st, we won’t tell anyone if you want to start now. Maybe you don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions anyway. So here’s another good reason to quit now: The weather is only getting worse. Historically, February is the coldest month of the year in Canada, and do you really want to go out for a smoke in the middle of that next blizzard?

              Read: Your new year’s resolution to start working out could do more than trim your waistline

With the new year, lots of Canadians resolve to do better in a number of ways. Often those resolutions have to do with improving their health. In fact, of the five most common resolutions made by Canadians, four are directly related to health. The most common is to start exercising, followed by saving money, eating healthier, losing weight and reducing stress.

Although quitting smoking doesn’t make the list, that may be because smoking rates in Canada are lower than they’ve ever been. As of 2017, only 15% of Canadians smoked, compared to 50% in 1965. Still, for those who do smoke, it continues to be the single biggest threat to their long-term health. It can quadruple your risk of developing heart disease, makes you 25 times more likely to get lung cancer, and harms nearly every organ in your body.

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So if you smoke and you want to get healthy, quitting is a great place to start. Yes, of course, exercising, eating healthy, losing weight and reducing your stress is also important, but getting healthy is a step-by-step process, and the accepted wisdom is that if you try to change all your bad habits all at once, you’re less likely to succeed.  

If you don’t already have a reason to quit, consider the following:

  • Cigarettes contain 70 different chemicals that are known to cause cancer.
  • 100 Canadians die every day from a smoking-related illness.
  • If helping yourself isn’t sufficient motivation, consider that 800 non-smokers die every year from exposure to second-hand smoke.
  • One hour after your last cigarette, you start to get the benefits of quitting.

It’s really incredible how quickly the human body can repair itself if we only give it the chance. Once you quit, it only takes one day before your risk of heart attacks starts to drop. After a month, you should notice improved lung function. After a year, your risk of heart disease will be reduced by half and will continue to drop after that. Ten years after quitting, your risk of lung cancer will be cut by half as well.

Twenty years after quitting, your risk of dying from a smoking-related illness is the same as someone who never smoked.

Quitting smoking will allow you to live longer, have more energy, enjoy your favourite smells and flavours and save anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 a year. It’s really one of the best gifts you can give yourself.

But you need to be aware that it won’t be easy. Nicotine is highly addictive, and most people try to quit at least 8 times before they’re able to quit for good. It’s important not to get discouraged, and to take advantage of the help that’s available. There are a number of prescription and non-prescription medications that can help you curb your urges to smoke, and studies show that using one of these quitting aids doubles your chances of quitting for good.

              Read: Prevention is your best weapon against cancer

If you really want to quit, your first step should be to talk to your doctor or pharmacist. They will be able to advise you on the various medications that can help you quit, and direct you to support groups in your area.

There’s no reason why 2020 can’t be the year you finally get healthy. Every journey starts with a first step. Time to get started.

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