(BPT) - The best time to quit using any form of tobacco is always now. Keep these three things in mind as you start your quit journey with the New Year.
Prioritizing our own mental and physical health is critical. One way to improve your health is to quit using any form of tobacco — for good. No matter your age or what type of tobacco product you use, quitting is possible. Below are three tips to keep in mind as you embark on your quit journey this year.
Tip 1: Recognize that smoking and vaping aren’t the solution to stress
Busy, emotional and stressful times can lead some people to smoke, vape or chew, based on the common misconception that they relieve stress and anxiety.
Nicotine stimulates the release of pleasure-inducing chemicals that make tobacco users feel good in the short-term and appear to have a positive effect on stress. However, nicotine use does not alleviate stress in the long-term. Instead, it can trap users in a cycle of nicotine addiction. Individuals who smoke or vape experience irritability, anxiety and depression when they have not used these products for a while, feelings which are relieved by smoking or vaping more nicotine. That temporary relief creates the perception that smoking and vaping nicotine has psychological benefits. The tobacco industry has also spent decades promoting the myth of nicotine as a stress-relieving tool.
However, years of scientific research show that smoking and vaping nicotine can worsen anxiety symptoms and amplify feelings of depression. In fact, quitting smoking is linked with lower levels of anxiety, depression and stress, as well as improved positive mood and quality of life, compared with continuing to smoke. There is also evidence of a link between quitting vaping and improvements in mental health symptoms. According to Truth Initiative, 47% of young adult e-cigarette users surveyed who quit vaping felt more in control than when they were vaping, and 90% felt less stressed, anxious or depressed.
Tip 2: Take advantage of tailored resources to support you on your journey
Access to support, through quit tools and peer support, during your quit journey is an important part of setting yourself up for success. Truth Initiative offers several research-backed and evidence-based resources regardless of who you are or where you are in the process of quitting.
A resource to help the more than 2.5 million middle and high school students currently using e-cigarettes is This is Quitting, a free and anonymous text message quit-vaping program. Now helping more than 500,000 young people on their journey to quit, This is Quitting is not only the largest in the country, but also the only one that has been validated by peer-reviewed research. A randomized clinical trial published in 2021 found that young adults aged 18-24 who used This is Quitting had nearly 40% higher odds of quitting compared to a control group. Teens and young adults can text “DITCHVAPE” to 88709 and get immediate help. This is Quitting is a crucial component of the truth brand and public education campaign run by Truth Initiative. The latest campaign, titled It’s Messing With Our Heads, calls out vapes for what they are — Depression Sticks that deliver a Breath of Stress Air. truth messaging also uplifts the voices of real young people and their journeys to quit through its ongoing “Quitters” series, which documents young people who are trading stress air for fresh air by quitting.
More than 30 million adults in the U.S. smoke cigarettes. EX is a free, digital quitting program developed by Truth Initiative in collaboration with Mayo Clinic to help. EX includes the longest-running online community for tobacco cessation and to date has helped nearly 1 million people develop the skills and confidence to successfully quit. Research has shown that following the EX quit plan quadruples a tobacco user's chance of quitting. In addition to helping people quit, EX also provides free resources for parents of young vape users, including a supportive online community and a full interactive website of information about how nicotine addiction works and different approaches to quit. Registration is free at BecomeAnEX.org. Truth Initiative also offers the EX Program, an enterprise digital quit-tobacco program, to employers and health plans as an effective solution to help employees and members live tobacco free. The EX Program includes live chat coaching with tobacco treatment experts, dynamic text messaging, a thriving social community of current and former tobacco users, free quit medication, and more.
Tip 3: Get inspired by people on the same journey
It is important to remember that you are not alone in wanting to quit any type of nicotine.
Every year, nearly 70% of adult smokers in the U.S. and nearly two-thirds of e-cigarette users say they want to quit. It can take multiple attempts to permanently quit smoking nicotine. Support is critical and can improve opportunities for success. Each month, thousands of EX Program community members share information and offer support through the platform’s various communication channels, including private messages, blogs, message boards and group discussions. One such quitter is John, a bar owner who is quitting smoking with support from EX Program. Working in the bar industry means John is constantly surrounded by smoking and tobacco use. To help deal with these triggers, John took full advantage of EX Program offerings. “The first few days and weeks are so hard. Your body is trying to adjust to the lack of nicotine, and the withdrawal symptoms are tough,” John reports. “I’m glad to have the support of others who are on the same journey as me.”
According to a Truth Initiative survey, the majority of young people that vape, more than 60%, want to quit. McCall is a 19-year-old content creator and former e-cigarette user who first started vaping nicotine when she was a freshman in high school. McCall documented her quit-vaping journey on her YouTube channel to her more than 118,000 subscribers, in the hope that sharing her story would help others. That same desire to help others led McCall to partner with truth to launch the “Quit With McCall Challenge.” The challenge led to more than 2,500 sign-ups for This Is Quitting and more than 800 young people joined McCall’s Discord channel to discuss their own quit journeys. “I am so inspired by everyone who is participating and the community we’ve built,” McCall says. “A lot of Gen-Z wants to quit once they know the risks, they just don’t know how. That’s why I was so happy to learn about This is Quitting and to partner with truth to help others quit too.”
These stories highlight the true impact of the evidence-backed resources available from Truth Initiative and can provide inspiration for others looking to quit. To learn more about Truth Initiative programs and resources available to help on your quitting journey, visit truthinitiative.org.