Burn the Habit


If you’re a fan of the TV series, Mad Men, you are very familiar with the daily routine—there’s no shortage of creative moments, liquor and cigarettes. Despite my initial reaction to just how much smoking took place, after seven seasons, the infamous advertising approach—attractive people, jobs and lifestyles—finally clicked. I’ve witnessed more anti-smoking ads in my lifetime, so watching Don Draper’s confident demeanor on screen made it easy to accept his deadly addiction.

Although cigarettes were far cheaper in the 1960’s – only 26 cents per pack – one thing has remained true: the damaging effects of smoking.

So, let’s chat and chew about the reality behind cigarettes and ways you can kick the habit.


Smoking is both extremely addictive and the leading cause of preventable death (1). Today, over 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking; however, thousands of teenagers continue to light up for the first time everyday.

In addition to stealing your money—a lifetime estimate of $1 million per person— smoking takes your health as well. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Also, on average, smokers die 10 years earlier than non-smokers. (2)

Check out the infographic below for more harmful effects—both physical and financial—caused by the use of tobacco.


Image © 2015 American Cancer Society / www.cancer.org


When you quit smoking—especially if you stop cold turkey—your body experiences withdrawal symptoms due to the habit’s physical and psychological addictive nature. If you’re ready to lead a healthier lifestyle, start by figuring out which quit method best suits your needs. See below for some helpful tips on ways you can finally give up cigarettes once and for all.

  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT): To help avoid symptoms of withdrawal—feelings of frustration, irritability, restlessness, or depression—try replacing cigarettes with nicotine gum, lozenges, or patches. According to the American Cancer Society, these alternative methods can almost double your chance of quitting successfully.
  • Prescription Medications: If quitting requires extra support, consider taking a prescription to treat or reduce withdrawal symptoms. Check out this list of common medications and talk to your doctor to discuss what option is best for you.
  • Talk it out: Quitting is hard enough on it’s own—try doing it alone and you’ll find it’s almost impossible. Tell your friends, family and possibly co-workers that you’re trying to stop smoking. Not only will they be thrilled about your decision, they will be an outlet for you to share triumphs and setbacks with along the way. Other options include talking to a counselor or joining a support group. 
  • Change the way you cope with stress: Oftentimes, people smoke to help relieve feelings of stress (nicotine helps to relax). Rather than light up a cigarette, schedule a massage, dance, or exercise—whatever you need to do to prevent yourself from smoking!
  • Avoid alcohol or known triggers: While you can’t stop driving because you normally smoke in the car, you can take a break from drinking alcohol—a common trigger of smoking. Maybe coffee is your vice, which in that case you can switch to tea or juice instead. If you have a habit of smoking after meals, try rinsing with mouthwash, brushing your teeth or chewing gum instead.
  • Eat more fruits and veggies: Rather than start extreme dieting when you quit smoking, try eating more low-calorie dairy products, fruits and vegetables. Studies show that these types of food can make cigarettes taste awful, which gives you the power to fight cravings and gain disease-fighting nutrients at the same time. 

Quitting smoking is no easy task; whether you decide to quit for yourself, loved ones or another reason, remember to set small goals and reward yourself along the way. You will start to notice improvements to your overall health almost immediately after your last cigarette—20 minutes to be exact—but the long-term changes make quitting that much more worthwhile. In the end, don’t be the butt of the joke – start living tobacco-free today!

As a friendly reminder to Compass Rose Health Plan members, you have access to a FREE Smoking Cessation Program included with your coverage. Learn more at www.compassrosebenefits.com/QuitSmoking.

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