Form a support system and quit smoking in 2017

New Years Resolution quit smoking isolated on white background
New Years Resolution quit smoking isolated on white background (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

ROANOKE (WSLS 10)-- Each year, millions of Americans make a New Year's Resolution to quit smoking, and whether you've gone several days without a cigarette or have already fallen off course, it's not too late to kick the habit.

A pack-a-day smoker can spend up to $2,000 a year on their habit, which makes quitting good for your health and your bank account.

Whether you've been smoking for a few months or for the past 40 years, experts say now is the time to quit smoking and start rebuilding your health. Researchers with the Health Department say that tobacco use continues to be the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Each year, Americans spend more than $170 billion on medical care related to smoking.

Despite those numbers, Dr. Chris Mertes with Carilion, says for many people-- the motivation to quit smoking only comes after a newly diagnosed illness, like cancer or a heart attack.

"Whether it is affecting the brain, the vision in our eyes, it causes heart disease as well as lung disease and lung cancer," he explains. "It used to be that we would think about smoking affecting peoples lungs and heart, but it's really more organ systems than just that."

Dr. Mertes says smoking can also lead to a longer recovery process after surgery and can eventually lead to arthritis as well.

While the road to quit smoking can be a long and bumpy one, doctors say the first step to quitting is actually wanting to. The first question Dr. Mertes asks his patients is if they like smoking. He says if they enjoy smoking and are quitting because someone else wants them to, there's not going to be a lot of motivation to go quit smoking for good.

For people who are ready to quit, the treatment process can range from a nicotine replacement, like gum or a patch, to medication that would help reduce irritability and cravings.

It's also important to keep your thoughts positive-- reminding yourself that you can quit. Dr. Mertes suggests taking some time to tell your friends and family about your goal so you can build up a support team. He says one of the biggest motivators to quit can come from your family and friends.

"Set them up not to have a cigarette waiting for your or not to buy that pack of cigarettes for you," he says. "You might have to change who you spend your time with. If all of your friends are smokers, it might mean a little bit of time away from them or having them respect that they're not going to smoke while you're around them."

The CDC says the average American tries to quit smoking anywhere from eight to eleven times before they kick the habit for good, so just because you fall off the wagon and have a cigarette-- don't give up. Start over with your goal and make 2017 the year your quit smoking for good.