If you or someone you love smokes, there's no better time than the present to quit -- especially considering November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and Nov. 21 is the Great American Smokeout. But who's still smoking, anyway? Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration illustrates an association between state cigarette taxes and smoking rates, though of course other elements are likely also at play (such as income levels, education levels and other socioeconomic factors).
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Infographic by Alissa Scheller for the Huffington Post
Keep in mind that it's never too late to quit: One study showed that middle-aged and elderly adults who kick the habit have their stroke and heart attack risks cut by more than 40 percent within the first five years of quitting smoking. Another study suggested that people who quit smoking before age 40 live just as long as never-smokers. And research presented this year at a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology Congress found that quitting smoking could bring the risk of dying from a heart attack down to the same level as a never-smoker.
And then of course there are all the things you avoid by quitting smoking -- increased risks of lung cancer and lung disease, as well as whole host of other deleterious effects on the lives and health of you and your family.
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Mindfulness training helped participants in a <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21723049" target="_hplink">2011 <em>Drug and Alcohol Dependence</em> study</a> to stay off cigarettes. That study included 88 people who smoked 20 cigarettes daily, on average, who were split up into two groups: One received four weeks of mindfulness training, while the other group went through four weeks of an <a href="http://www.ffsonline.org/" target="_hplink">American Lung Association stop-smoking program</a>. The researchers found that more of those who went through the mindfulness training smoked fewer cigarettes -- and stayed off them -- than those who went through the other stop-smoking program. The mindfulness training included <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/minding-the-body/201204/can-mindfulness-help-you-quit-smoking" target="_hplink">realizing when you're facing a craving</a>, accepting it, thinking about what's happening and then taking note of the sensation (whether it's tightness or pressure), <em>Psychology Today</em> reported.
Jogging and bicycling aren't the only exercises that could help you kick the smoking habit -- <em>Shape</em> magazine reported that <a href="http://www.shape.com/latest-news-trends/study-says-weight-lifting-can-help-smokers-quit-and-lose-weight" target="_hplink">weightlifting could help</a>, too. The research, published in the journal <em>Nicotine & Tobacco Research</em>, showed that doing two hour-long weightlifting sessions for 12 weeks <em>plus</em> undergoing treatment to quit smoking was linked with greater success in quitting smoking, compared with just undergoing the stop-smoking treatment.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/10/fruits-vegetables-quit-smoking-smokers-tobacco_n_1581465.html" target="_hplink">Eating lots of fruits and veggies</a> could help smokers maintain a tobacco-free lifestyle, according to research from the University of Buffalo. The study, published in the journal <em>Nicotine and Tobacco Research</em>, included 1,000 smokers ages 25 and older. The researchers had the participants answer surveys about their smoking habits and their fruit and vegetable intake. Then, they followed up with them 14 months later and asked them if they used tobacco over the past month. The researchers found that there was a relationship between the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/10/fruits-vegetables-quit-smoking-smokers-tobacco_n_1581465.html" target="_hplink">amount of fruits and vegetables</a> the study participants ate, and the likelihood that they quit -- and stayed off -- tobacco. In fact, people who ate the most produce in the study were three times more likely to report that they'd been tobacco free in the previous month. The researchers also found a link between increased produce consumption and taking longer in the day to have the first cigarette, smoking fewer cigarettes, and decreased dependence on nicotine (based on test results).
A review of studies suggests there is evidence that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/07/acupuncture-quit-smoking-hypnosis_n_1497348.html" target="_hplink">acupuncture and hypnosis</a> can work to help quit smoking, Reuters reported. Researchers, who published their findings in the <em>American Journal of Medicine</em>, said that other options -- like medications and counseling -- should be tried first, but that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/11/hypnosis-quit-smoking_n_1248444.html" target="_hplink">hypnosis</a> and acupuncture could help if those options don't work, or if people don't want to go on medications, according to Reuters.
Who knew your phone could be used to help you quit smoking? A recent study published in the <a href="http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(11)60701-0/abstract" target="_hplink">journal <em>The Lancet</em></a> showed that smokers who enrolled in a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/05/smoking-text-message_n_888188.html" target="_hplink">program called "txt2stop"</a> -- where they received encouraging text messages to quit smoking -- were twice as likely to kick the habit after six months, compared with smokers who didn't get any encouraging messages. In the study, conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, one group was able to text words like "lapse" and "crave" to a phone number, and <a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-27083_3-20075843-247/want-to-quit-smoking-try-text-message-support/" target="_hplink">received an encouraging text</a> message in return, CNET reported. The other group of people, however, only got one text message every two weeks, and that message just thanked them for being part of the study.