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Quitting smoking in time for the Great American Smokeout

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Tuesday, November 17, 2015, 11:58 AM

It’s the best day to kick butt.

The Great American Smokeout — a campaign launched by the American Cancer Society to challenge smokers to stop the habit — takes place on Thursday.

About 480,000 Americans die every year from smoking-related illnesses — accounting for roughly 1 in 5 deaths — making it the leading preventable cause of death, disease and disability, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention.

But the number of smokers nationwide has dropped significantly in recent years.

Currently, 17.8% of adults in the U.S. are smokers — dropping from the 20.9% of American adults who smoked in 2005, the CDC reported.

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On the third Thursday in November each year Americans all across the country take part in The Great American Smokeout.

For some, quitting only happens when a smoker is ready — and it usually involves the use of a nicotine patch, gum or using e-cigs.

Adam Redondo, 31, of Miami, was smoking a pack every two days for more than a decade when he met his girlfriend, who finally told him to choose between her or the cigarettes.

“She hated the smell and hated the idea that I was hurting myself — it worried her,” he said.

“I tried to hide it a bit for a while, but she could smell it on me. Ultimately, I was only cheating myself when I did hide it.”

Redondo said the key to quitting was to not let a relapse now and then force him back to being a smoker.

“Hold yourself accountable for your decision to quit and ultimately don’t give up,” he said.

“That means don’t give up in the short term or long term — if you are smoke-free for a week and (then you) smoke a cig, don’t beat yourself up over it.”

For some nicotine addicts, it’s not necessarily the physical withdrawal that’s so hard to bear — it’s the mental anguish leading up to the act of quitting that makes it so difficult, according to the highest-selling quit smoking book “The Easyway to Quit Smoking.”

James Dean on the set of 'Giant.'Hulton Archive/Getty Images

James Dean on the set of ‘Giant.’

“Most smokers assume it’s going to be really hard to quit and even harder at times when they feel they benefit most from being a smoker,” said John Dicey, CEO and Senior Therapist of Allen Carr’s Easyway method.

“They can’t imagine that they’ll be able to enjoy nights out, socialising with friends, or handle stressful situations. It all adds up to a huge sense of fear.”

The Easyway method — which boasts a 90% success rate — focuses on pushing smokers to question why they smoke and works to change their perceptions of smoking.

“What smokers suffer when they try to quit is the panic feeling caused by the belief that they’re missing out on something,” said Dicey. “As long as they understand that smoking provided them with no benefits at all — they won’t mope after cigarettes.”

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Back in the day, stars such as Paul Newman and Marlon Brando were the poster boys for smoking.

Enlarge MR Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Getty Images/Wavebreak Media

The painless physical sensation caused by a nicotine craving is so slight that if a smoker was unaware of its cause, they could easily ignore it.

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Dicey says it’s important not to avoid thinking about cigarettes when quitting — which is naturally going to occur for an addict — and to ride the cravings out.

“Getting comfortable about thinking about cigarettes or smoking is key,” said Dicey. “If you try not to think about it — you will think about it even more.”

And, most importantly, Dicey said don’t quit for anyone else but yourself.

“You are the most important person on this planet,” he said.

“As soon as you start to think in terms of escaping to freedom rather than sacrificing it — the future looks bright and sunny rather than doom and gloom.”

For help on quitting smoking or for more info click here.

mnewman@nydailynews.com

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