Knowing that quitting smoking is a popular New Year’s resolution, the Medical University of South Carolina Hollings Cancer Center offers strategies to help people kick the habit.

To learn more about quitting and for free counseling support, call the South Carolina Smokers’ Quitline at 800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669).

The gift of quitting

While the holidays are a hard time to quit smoking, the hubbub is nearly over.

Pick a “quit date” this month: two to four weeks away will work well. This will give you time to prepare your quit plan.

Mark your quit date on a calendar, wrap the calendar and give that as a gift.

Write lists

Making a plan ahead of time will help you quit for good. Write a list of your triggers: the certain times, places, people or feelings that make you want to smoke. Then list what you will do to beat them.

List how you will prepare for your quit date, for example, by cutting down on cigarettes, removing cigarettes from your home and car and by asking people close to you for their support during your quit attempt.

Steer clear of Grinches

Stay away from people who discourage you or try to tempt you. Surround yourself with positive people.

Try something new

Quit-smoking medicines such as the nicotine patch or prescriptions can double your chances of quitting.

If you’ve tried a medicine before, don’t give up, try again.

There are several options. Give your doctor a call to see which medicines might work for you.

Save money

It is expensive to smoke cigarettes. It is probably costing you about $1,600 a year to feed your addiction.

Save your money and you’ll have a few extra bucks to spend on holiday gifts for next year.

Save the aggravation

It is getting less convenient to smoke with so many communities passing smoke-free laws in public places, including restaurants and bars. So avoid the frustration. Quit.

Think of others

Secondhand smoke exposure is dangerous for those around you most of the time. Even your pets can be harmed by the toxins found in smoke.

The payoffs

Quitting smoking can be hard, but the rewards of quitting are immediate.

Twenty minutes after your last cigarette, your blood pressure goes almost completely back to normal, and within 24 hours, your chance of a heart attack decreases.

Five years after quitting, your risk of heart disease will be that of a nonsmoker.

Source: MUSC Hollings Cancer Center