Going Smoke-Free in the New Year – With a New Outlook

By: Dr. Hilary Tindle, M.D., M.P.H.

As we round the sun yet again this season and resolve ourselves to greater health and happiness, many of the 1-in-5 people who use tobacco are likely to be pitching their packs. My advice for them is to go for it by focusing on something a little different: outlook. Outlook is a term I use to describe the lens through which we see the world, and years of clinical practice and research have taught me that it may be the most important tool we have for health and healthy aging – at any age.  
As an internal medicine doctor and director of a large tobacco treatment service at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC, I talk to people every day about how to keep their hearts, brains, livers, kidneys and other organs healthy by quitting smoking. It all starts by helping people adopt an outlook that allows them not only to believe that they can succeed but also to expect success—and then stick to a sound plan to make good on that resolution.
So this time, while you’re preparing to put out that cigarette, call the free national quit line at 1-800-QUIT NOW and use the nicotine patch, which is OK to combine with oral gum or lozenge for tough cravings. But take it a step further by dosing yourself with a little optimism, which is nothing more than expecting your plan to turn out well, and mustering the courage, discipline and assistance from others to see that plan through.
Dr. Hilary Tindle is an internist and smoking cessation researcher at UPMC.