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Rising Cigarette Prices May Be Incentive to Quit

TUESDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) -- The recent increase in the Illinois cigarette tax is an example of how making smoking more expensive can convince some people it's time to quit.

For example, being a smoker in Chicago can easily cost $300 a month, which is more than twice as expensive as a monthly prescription of medications to help a person quit smoking.

But even when the cost of smoking convinces a person to quit, it can be hard to kick the habit, said Dr. Phillip McAndrew, an internal medicine physician and occupational health expert at Loyola University Health System.

"Nicotine really is that addictive. It's a hard battle, but every one that we win, including increasing the cost of cigarettes through taxes, brings individual smokers to the tipping point where the pain of smoking overcomes the joys of nicotine and they quit," McAndrew noted. "The tipping point could be a life-altering health experience, but often it's the impact on the pocketbook that makes people really consider quitting," he explained in a Loyola news release.

"To quit you need the time and teamwork approach. Don't expect to do it overnight and you need a team of support around you to cheer you on. That team captain should be your physician," McAndrew said.

"Nicotine is too strong an opponent for someone to go it alone. You need that team to help keep you on track when everything inside of you wants to go back," he advised.

McAndrew offered the following tips to help people quit smoking:

  • Assemble a support team that includes your family, doctor, friends and co-workers.
  • Set a specific date to quit. Make it two to four weeks away so that you have time to prepare. When quit day arrives, make sure to celebrate it.
  • Make preparations to limit the temptation of nicotine while you try to quit. Talk to your doctor about medications and other methods to help you; buy gum, carrot sticks or other snacks to keep your mouth busy; get rid of all cigarettes, matches, lighters and ashtrays from your home, office, car and other locations where you smoke; clean your clothes, home and car so they don't smell like smoke; program your phone with resources such as tobacco "quit lines."
  • Find ways to cope with stress and boredom, which can trigger a return to smoking.
  • Keep doing enjoyable things you used to connect with smoking, such as taking a break or going out with friends. That will help you break the mental link between these pleasant activities and smoking.

More information

The American Cancer Society offers a guide to quitting smoking.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Loyola University Health System, news release, July 26, 2012

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