Take some potentially lifesaving advice from the Rockland County Department of Health's award-winning, highly successful Put It Out Rockland Quit Smoking Program: Don't just think about quitting smoking -- do it, even if it is just for one day.
Use the Great American Smoke Out, scheduled for Nov. 15, as the day you commit to quit, the department urged in a Wednesday news release.
"By using this day to be smoke-free, you will gain confidence in your ability to quit for good," said Dr. Joan Facelle, Rockland County's commissioner of health.
Follow these simple steps, provided by the Rockland County Department of Health but certainly applicable to everyone in the Hudson Valley, to prepare to quit Nov. 15 for the Great American Smoke Out:
• Call the New York State Smokers' Quitline at 866-697-8487 to order a free two-week supply of nicotine replacement patches. Using the patch, gum or lozenges, along with a behavior change program and a quit plan, can double your chances of being successful, the news release said.
• Make a quit plan: Before your quit day, track your smoking and look at what makes you light up. Write down what's going on right before you light up, and note your mood and how badly you want that cigarette. You will see that some cigarettes mean more to you than others. Choose not to smoke the ones that you really don't need by waiting five minutes. Instead, chew a piece of gum or eat a piece of fruit.
• Once you have identified what you associate with smoking or what triggers your smoking, such as drinking coffee, driving, drinking alcohol or feeling stressed, make a plan to change. For example, drink tea instead of coffee, clean your car so it smells good, empty your ashtray and add an air freshener. Choose not to drink alcohol and choose not to be around people who do smoke and drink.
• Plan to replace your smoking time with fun activities like reading, talking to a friend, taking a walk or doing another physical activity.
• Stock up on healthful snacks like water, juice, nuts, fruit or vegetables like carrot sticks and celery, or try low-fat yogurt instead of a cigarette.
• Substitute sugarless mints, gum or cinnamon sticks when you feel like lighting up.
Once you get your patches from the New York State Smokers' Quitline and make a quit plan, you are ready to quit Nov. 15.
"On the evening before your quit day, gather up all your cigarettes, wet them down under the faucet of the sink and throw them away. When you wake up in the morning, put on one of your patches and start your quit plan. Just remember, you cannot smoke while wearing the patch," said Maryanne Ferrara, Quit Smoking Specialist and Put It Out Rockland program coordinator.
"Becoming tobacco-free is a liberating experience that puts you back in charge of your life, starting with one day at a time," Ferrara added.
Put It Out Rockland offers a low-cost quit smoking program to help you continue on your smoke-free journey. Call 364-2651 or visit www.PutItOutRockland.com to learn more about the program that can help you kick the habit for good.