On Wednesday, with a bipartisan vote of 33-12 in the Washington State Senate, the Washington State Legislature passed legislation to raise the sale age for tobacco and vapor products to 21. Washington is the 9th state to raise the age of sale of tobacco and vapor products to 21.
Adding to these increased age restrictions, the FDA is cracking down on flavored cigars to reduce youth tobacco use.
With these restrictions going into place, and the ever increasing price of tobacco products, some may decide quitting is the best option. But is quitting smoking really that hard? Former Tobacco Quit Coach Janet Wilson answers that very question.
Yes, smoking really is that hard!
In all the years that I was a Quit Coach, one of the most asked questions was, “Why is quitting smoking so hard?” That is a difficult question to answer because it is different for everyone.
One of the main reasons it is difficult is because nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs out there. I had people from all walks of life tell me that they had given up alcohol, meth, heroin, cocaine, prescription drugs, etc., but cigarettes have been the hardest. They just couldn’t understand why. Once one understands that there are three sides to the addiction, it becomes a little easier to grasp.
The three sides to the addiction of tobacco include physical, habit, and emotional.
- Physical: your body’s need for nicotine.
- Habit: all the things that one does when smoking such as driving, after eating, with coffee/alcohol, on the phone, before bed, breaks at work, etc.
- Emotional: smoking when one is stressed, sad, happy, bored, anxious, etc.
All three sides of this addiction have to have a plan to be successful. There is no magic pill you can take to slap that cigarette out of your hand. Medications definitely help with the physical side of the addiction, but you must also know what you are going to do for the habit side of the addiction. What will you do after a meal to keep your mind and hands busy while the craving passes?
You didn’t get the craving because you needed nicotine at the moment after eating, that is a habit you have created, and your brain is expecting it, so that is why you got the craving. Cravings usually only last about 3-7 minutes when you first quit tobacco, so the key is to get distracted until the craving goes away. (If it lasts longer, that is just another craving on top of another on top of another).
I would always ask my clients how long they felt their cravings lasted and most of the time they responded with, “Until I smoke.” Most people don’t even realize that the craving does go away if they just wait that 3-7 minutes, but they usually don’t want to suffer through it, so they smoke.
If you are ready to quit and looking for immediate assistance call 1(800) QUITNOW (784-8669.) This is a nationwide phone number that can assist anyone in the U.S. So if you have relatives out-of-state, please pass along the number. The agents will look to see what resources are available to you.
Some Medicaid plans and other insurance plans may cover the program. The Washington State Tobacco Quitline may have some benefits for you. The company you work for may also pay for the Quit For Life Program. ™ There are many options, so give them a call and see what resources you are eligible for.
There are lots of free options and talking to a Quit Coach can increase your odds of being successful in remaining nicotine-free. Quit Coaches will go over what your benefits are, and send out printed materials on how to quit. They may provide you with a free coaching call to go over your plan, where to start, what medication to use, how to deal with cravings, tobacco proofing, and establishing a support system. They will make sure that all three sides of this addiction are addressed. So giving them a call is worth the effort, they are all very non-judgmental. Many coaches are previous tobacco users themselves!
There is so much more to say, but I know this is a lot of information to process so I will leave it at this until the next time. Wishing you the best!
Janet Wilson, RYT 200, has dedicated her life to helping others achieve their personal goals. She graduated from UNT with a B.S degree in Physical Education with a minor in health. She has worn many different hats throughout her life and career, but one thing that is constant is her love for helping people. She worked for one of the leading smoking cessation companies in the world for 14 years, assisting people in getting off of tobacco. She is a former tobacco user herself, so she knows firsthand how addictive tobacco can be. She has taught fitness classes since 1979 and received her RYT 200 Yoga Certification in 2015 from Three Trees Yoga in Federal Way. She retired from being a Tobacco Quit Coach in 2017 and she now teaches yoga full-time.