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The Great American Smokeout: Tips for People Deciding to Quit

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- The American Cancer Society continues its tradition Thursday with the 36th Great American Smokeout -- a day dedicated to encourage smokers to either quit or set a date to officially put down the pack.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are still 46 million smokers in the country, and one in five deaths can be attributed to tobacco use. What's worse, the CDC says, 70 percent of smokers who try to quit relapse, and experts say it takes a smoker seven to 10 times to quit for good.

Here are seven tips from leading experts for smokers looking to kick the habit:

1. Quit on a Monday

Some experts say that a huge part of whether or not smokers successfully become ex-smokers all depends on what day of the week you decide to quit.

"There's a logic to it," said Dr. Thomas Glynn, the director of cancer science and trends at the American Cancer Society.  "It's good to pick a time you're more busy, and Monday is ideal.  It's the beginning of the week, beginning of a new non-smoking life for you."

2. Find a Reason to Quit

"The main thing for any smoker is they have to analyze how committed they are to this," said Glynn.  "Write down the reason you want to stop on a piece of paper.  Take that piece of paper, laminate it, keep it in a special place, pull it out every time you want to start."

3. Get Treatment

Dr. John Hughes of the University of Vermont, who looks into the psychology of quitting, said the best thing smokers can do is get professional treatment.

Glynn agreed, and said that pairing medications with counseling is more useful than doing just counseling alone.

4. Take Advantage of Medicines

Hughes said that using over-the-counter drugs, including nicotine gum, lozenges or patches, doubles the chances of a smoker quitting.  He added that using over-the-counter patch to deliver a constant stream of medication and a lozenge or gum to combat intense cravings is something many physicians have been recommending -- though the FDA is still determining if it's a safe option.

5. If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again

Experts say that it usually takes smokers seven to 10 attempts to kick the habit before they actually give it up for good, and Hughes said it's important that people trying to quit don't stop if they happen to relapse.

6. Communicate with Loved Ones

Hughes and Glynn both said that there are several things non-smokers can do to help their loved ones get through the day, including sitting down with them to set some ground rules.

"Ask them not to smoke around you, keep the cigarettes away from you, make cigarettes not very available," Hughes said.  "Going a day without smoking for them is harder than if I fasted for a day.  Many smokers would much rather go without eating for a day than without cigarettes."

7. Look at Your Bank Account

These days, Glynn said, economics is driving a lot of people to think about quitting as much as their health is.  The average cost of a pack of cigarettes in the U.S. is $5.50, and in some regions, packs can cost upwards of $10.

People are not only spending an extra $2,000 to $4,000 per year just on the habit alone, but must also account for extra health care costs, dental visits, dry cleaning, etc.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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