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Jan. 1 may be worst day of all to kick smoking habit smoking

Posted: Wednesday, January 02, 2002

Smokers planning to quit the first of the year should think twice.

For those who did some heavy partying New Year's Eve without any preparation in their quest to stop smoking, New Year's Day is absolutely the worst day of the year to stop smoking.

As an ex-smoker and the founder of a company that helps people to stop smoking, I've learned some things you may find helpful if you truly want to release tobacco from your life.

Setting the first of the year as a quit date will work for those who have prepared fully and planned a sober, healthy celebration on New Year's Eve.

Here are three basic reasons why the opposite won't work. First is what you'll have put into your body the night before. All the sugary, crunchy foods will have your body working overtime to digest them. Your mind will be foggy and your body will be weakened -- not a good way to start a smoke-free life.

Combine that with any overindulgence in alcohol and you have one very substantial hangover to deal with as you cruise through the fog of all the TV bowl games on the first day of 2002.

The second reason is that, without a game plan it's more likely you'll soon be running out to the local convenience store for a pack cigarettes.

I recommend at least three weeks of preparation before quitting. During that time you can take steps to boost your sense of self-trust, take dietary steps to prepare your body and learn new ways of coping with stress.

Let's go back to New Year's Day morning again. Preparing for those bowl games, you shuffled quietly to the kitchen to make a pot of coffee. For lots of smokers, coffee is "wake-up juice" --especially Jan. 1, when you feel run down after celebrating.

Coffee is the quitting smoker's biggest enemy. Like a cigarette, it usually gives you a short-term boost in energy and clarity. And, like a cigarette, it saps your energy and clarity within a few hours.

First, of course, there's the psychological connection made with having the day's first cup of coffee and puffing on the cigarette. Then there's the fact that when you stop smoking, caffeine levels increase dramatically if you keep taking in the same amount of caffeine.

Hence, according to clinical trials research, coffee drinkers who continue to drink the same amounts of coffee experience a literal "caffeine toxicity" when they stop smoking. That means you're "wired" for a longer period of time and are more likely to experience insomnia, nervousness and frustration.

The result for many quitting smokers: symptoms you might interpret as the need for a cigarette.

The third factor to consider about coffee is that caffeine, research has shown, tends to bind nicotine to the body. What that means to you is cravings for a cigarette just may be longer and more intense. I recommend you cut down your coffee use before stopping smoking, getting to zero caffeine use at least a week before you quit.

Going back to coffee a month after you've quit smoking is an option.

If you've made a resolution to stop smoking in the new year, start the process of quitting -- the preparation -- during the first week of the new year. Simply refuse to put it off any longer. The choice is yours alone. Do something, no matter how brief or simple, every day that helps you prepare for a life that is free of tobacco.

Charles Tedesco is founder of Smoking Release Associates in La Quinta, Calif.



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