Health Department offers some ideas for kicking smoking habit

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(Host) Smoking rates in Vermont have been dropping steadily, but 18 percent of adults are still hooked.

Studies show that about 70 percent of all smokers want to quit. If you’re one of them, the Vermont Health Department hopes you’ll check out their newly revamped Quit Network to find free tips and other help.

VPR’s Nina Keck has more.

(Keck) Trying to quit smoking? Here’s a number you should know: three to five minutes. That’s how long a typical craving for a cigarette lasts. Getting through those cravings is one of the most difficult things about quitting.

So state health experts asked lots and lots of former smokers what helped them. The best ideas are now on the Web at Vermont Here’s one of my favorites: Sing along to the radio.

(Beatles) "We all live in a yellow submarine. . . . yellow submarine. . . . yellow submarine. . . .”

(sound of record being yanked.)

(Keck) Sorry. Need something more current?

(Sara Bareilles) "Not going to write you a love song. . . .”

(Keck) Whether you like the Beatles, the Bangles or Sara Bareilles most songs on the radio last about three minutes. So if you’re in the car and want to light up it’s an easy alternative.

Not a singer? Not a problem. Here’s another idea from the Quit Network website. Brush and floss your teeth. No kidding. It’ll take your mind off smoking and actually give you fresh breath. Health Educator Sheri Lynn heads up Vermont’s anti smoking program.

(Lynn) "You know, I like to come up with a top ten list like David Letterman does. (laughs) Thinking about your top ten movies, your top ten songs.”

(Keck) If you want to be productive, clean out a desk drawer. Take five minutes to check your emails or delete all those text messages that have been taking up space on your cell phone. Play with your kids, take a walk – better yet, walk your dog – he needs the exercise too. Sheri Lynn says the state’s redesigned website has loads of ideas to get your mind on something else for a few minutes. But she says other helpful services are available as well.

(Lynn) "A lot of people try to do it on their own. We want people to check out the tips to get by the distraction. You really can double your chances of success if you have a quit coach and get some of the free nicotine patches or gum to get you through those tough times."

(Keck) And don’t get discouraged, says Lynn. Studies show most smokers try to quit five to seven times before they succeed. Every time a person tries, she says, they learn something. So every attempt counts.

For VPR News, I’m Nina Keck.

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