No matter how graphic the commercials, the warnings, and the actual facts, every year approximately 1,000 teens pick up the deadly habit of smoking cigarettes daily.

Early exposure to tobacco products for these teens often turns them into one of the 43.8 million American adults that smoke on a regular basis.

Though the information has been widely available for years, health officials are once again gearing up for the New Year to offer support for those who are ready to quit.

“Most smokers have tried to quit in the past and sometimes people get discouraged thinking about previous attempts,” the American Lung Association (ALA) wrote. “Those experiences were necessary steps on the road to future success. Think about what helped you during those tries and what you’ll do differently in your next quit attempt.”

According to the ALA, telling friends and family members about a resolution to quit smoking is an excellent way to stick to the goal, as they can reinforce the plan and keep smokers from straying.

More than 440,000 Americans die from smoking-related causes each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but there are many different ways to quit.

In addition to the classic cold turkey method, there is nicotine gum, patches that can be applied to the skin, nicotine inhalers and nasal sprays available by prescription. The CDC also suggests prescription drugs such as Chantix and Zyban if all else fails when trying to do away with smoking for good.

“While it’s best to quit smoking as early as possible, quitting smoking at any age will enhance the length and quality of your life,” the ALA stated. “You’ll also save money and avoid the hassle of going outside in the cold to smoke.”

Aside from causing several different types of cancer, including carcinoma of the lung, mouth, and throat, women who can’t shake the habit during pregnancy give birth to infants with low birth weights.

Quitting smoking isn’t just for those who can’t resist a puff; it can greatly improve the lives of those who have had no choice but to breathe in the toxins exhaled by parents, family members, and caretakers.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, second hand smoke causes cancer in the bodies of individuals who have never even indulged in a cigarette.

“There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke,” the department stated. “It contains over 7,000 harmful chemicals, at least 250 of which are known to damage your health. It can also stay in the air for several hours after somebody smokes. Even breathing secondhand smoke for a short amount of time can hurt your body.”

The Department of Health and Human Services encourages keeping one’s hands busy to resist urges, switch up regular routines, and increase water intake to help the cause.

Meditation, deep breathing techniques, and frequenting smoke-free establishments can also go a long way toward kicking the habit.

Smokers are encouraged to look for smoking cessation programs in their local areas or call the HHS “quitline” at 1–800–QUIT–NOW (1–800–784–8669) to get a jump start

Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer