Eric D. Collins, MD
Dr. Collins, the Medical Director at the New York Center for Living, has practiced addiction psychiatry for nearly 30 years.
Today, November 16th, 2023, marks the Great American Smokeout—an event organized by the American Cancer Society to provide resources and support to people in an effort to help them quit smoking cigarettes and other nicotine products.
As a physician, I remain seriously concerned about the effects of tobacco products on peoples’ short- and long-term health. There is an enormous body of evidence of the dangers associated with smoking cigarettes and consuming other forms of tobacco, such as chewing tobacco. Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical; even when a person is motivated to reduce or stop using nicotine, it can be very difficult. Nonetheless, there are proven steps people can take to increase the likelihood that their efforts to quit smoking will be successful. Here are a few:
- Decide if you’re ready to give quitting a try—while there are ample reasons to quit nicotine products, a person may wonder whether now is the right time. Examining what is going on in your life in the moment in terms of health, finances, and life stressors can help you determine if you’re going to start today or set a future date to quit.
- Write down the pros and cons of quitting—while this might seem simplistic, for people who are unsure whether and when they want to quit an addictive substance or behavior, considering the benefits and the costs associated with quitting can help build stronger motivation for successful efforts to stop.
- Write down your reasons to make your effort to quit smoking a win—as with the the pros and cons list, this list can help clarify your reasons for quitting, including your personal health, your desire to remain healthy for your family and others, and the financial costs of using tobacco. Reviewing this list on a daily basis can increase both motivation and commitment towards the goal.
- Enlist others to help you hold yourself accountable to your goal—while we all seek to balance support and accountability towards ourselves, we can also invite friends and loved ones to help us in this process.
- Seek professional medical help, including the possibility of using medications that improve successful quitting—talk to your doctor or psychiatrist about various medications (nicotine replacement, bupropion, varenicline) that support tobacco cessation to determine if one of these might be right for you. These medications are FDA-approved and have been proven effective in helping people quit using tobacco products.
If you are considering quitting tobacco, here are some helpful resources:
- NYC Quits—a program from NYC Health that provides citizens of New York City with resources to support the decision to quit using tobacco products.
- NY SmokeFree—home to the New York State Smokers’ Outline (NYSSQL), NY SmokeFree is a free and confidential program that helps residents quit tobacco products using evidence-based approaches.
- Centers for Disease Control: Smoking and Tobacco Use—CDC’s website providing education on the dangers of tobacco products and resources on how to quit.
- SAMHSA: You Can Quit Tobacco—a helpful PDF on benefits and tips for quitting tobacco products.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use disorder, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com or call us at 212-712-8800.