Nov. 15 marks this year's Great American Smokeout, when organizations across the country encourage smokers to quit the habit. Yahoo asked former smokers to offer to advice to those trying to stop smoking.
FIRST PERSON | I am a 47-year-old woman who started smoking cigarettes when I was 11 (back when the Marlboro man was cool), and that's what I smoked - Marlboro 100's every single day for 36 years.
By the time I was 12, I smoked at least a pack a day, and by the time I was 20 I was smoking two packs a day. If I got in the car, answered the phone, got upset, or opened a soda, I lit a cigarette.
I won't even pretend the decision to quit was easy after smoking every single day for 36 years. What I can tell you is that smoking is not cool, and it kills people just like me and you every day.
Two months ago, I had a heart attack, and was forced to make the decision to either quit smoking or die an early death. I choose to live.
I tried going cold turkey, but even as serious as I am about quitting it just didn't work for me. So, I joined a free online smoking cessation program for Georgia residents. They send me patches in the mail and counsel me when I need someone to talk to. The patches help a lot with cutting down on the number of cigarettes I smoke each day. Another thing that I have found very helpful is changing my daily routines. Small things can make a big difference -- like not smoking as soon as I get out of bed each morning and drinking a cup of coffee without a cigarette every day.
Recently, my husband came home with one of the new electronic cigarettes, and that has helped tremendously. I know they are not good for me, but when I do break down, I don't get so down on myself, and I don't smoke more because I am discouraged. I just keep going and know that one day soon I am going to be a non-smoker.
Thursday is the Great American Smokeout. It's also the day I've decided to quit. I am going to quit smoking cigarettes forever on Thursday. Please, join me and let's all live longer, healthier lives.