When trying to give up tobacco, expert says ‘Quit, don’t switch’

At a time when everyone’s looking for ways to save money, it might be tough to believe that smokers spend about $8 a pack on cigarettes.

The American Lung Association’s Tobacco-Free ’23 campaign aims to help people quit in order to  save between $2,230 and $4,360 annually.

“If you are planning to make a New Year’s resolution this year to quit tobacco use, first and foremost, make sure you are quitting all tobacco products,” said Jennifer Folkenroth, national senior director of tobacco programs with the American Lung Association.

Don’t lean on e-cigarettes or other tobacco products to help wean yourself off cigarettes, she said. The Food and Drug Administration has not found any e-cigarette to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit.

“Quit, don’t switch,” she said. “Quitting means ending your addiction to nicotine for good, and you can do that successfully with a tobacco treatment plan that includes counseling plus FDA-approved cessation medication.”

Seven FDA-approved medications help with the physical symptoms, and there are a half-dozen counseling options, including phone, in-person group sessions, or even a self-help booklet.

Because it takes an average tobacco user between eight and 10 tries before they quit for good, Folkenroth called quitting a journey and not an event.

A team approach that leads to the best chance for success includes talking with your health care provider to get an FDA-approved cessation medication, then connecting with counseling and additional help by enrolling in the Freedom From Smoking Program at at 1-800-LUNGUSA. It prepares you by identifying your triggers and smoking patterns and routines, to come up with alternatives and replacements to help assist with the urges and cravings.

You also need to recruit people to be part of your support system.

“Who is really going to be there for you throughout your journey that you can call on anytime you’re having a really tough urge or craving to use that tobacco product? You can call on them for support to talk you through it, or even set up rewards for different milestones that you may meet being tobacco-free,” she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, quitting smoking is one of the most important actions people can take to improve their health.

“Everyone can quit. Fifty million people in the United States are proof that it’s possible to quit. So don’t give up; don’t stop trying. And give us a call.” The American Lung Association is here on standby at 1-800-LUNGUSA (800-586-4872); or you can visit us online at ,” Folkenroth said. “We would love to support you through your journey to freedom from tobacco dependency in Tobacco Free ’23.”

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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