Guest opinion

"Don't let your resolutions go up in smoke A new year brings a chance for new beginnings, and many of us target Jan. 1, as a day for making personal resolutions to shed bad habits and better our lives. Unfortunately the strong sense of resolve we feel on Jan. 1, may begin to fade by Jan. 2, leaving a feeling of disappointment in its wake. In this age of instant technology, we may expect personal change to happen as quickly as changes to our favorite Web site. But New Year's resolutions are really personal evolutions, and evolution takes time. A perfect example of this is the resolution to quit tobacco use. While giving up tobacco is an ideal resolution, it's often a long and difficult process. In fact, the average smoker attempts to quit seven times before finding success. The good news is there's more help available this year to Washington residents who want to start tobacco-free lives. The Washington State Department of Health recently launched a statewide, toll-free Quit Line (1-877-270-STOP) to aid tobacco users with one-on-one cessation counseling and referrals. In only two months of operation, this resource has already helped over 2000 tobacco users start the quitting process. It's important to note that tobacco is a physical and psychological addiction, and tobacco users must be ready to quit. If you use tobacco and you're ready to start the quitting process, here are some tips: In the days leading up to quitting: Educate yourself. Research the benefits of quitting. Pay attention. Identify your tobacco triggers, the situations or emotions that encourage you to smoke or chew. Make plans for overcoming-or avoiding-these triggers. Do you always have a cigarette after dinner? Try taking a walk instead. Set a date. Pick a day to stop using tobacco and stick to it. (Avoid typically high-stress times.) Spread the word. Build a support network by telling friends and family you've decided to quit. Make a clean start. Give your house, clothes and car a new beginning with a thorough cleaning. Get rid of tobacco smells that may tempt you when you quit. Collect and toss. Search your house and car for anything related to tobacco use (cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays, etc.) and throw them away. Get help. Don't go it alone, call our Quit Line (1-877-270-STOP) and let our trained specialists help you find the resources you need. It's fast and it's free. If you use tobacco, the decision to quit is one of the most important resolutions you will ever make. Do it for yourself. Do it for your family. Do it for your health. Remember, we're here to help. "

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