stethoscope on plastic heart

Smoking is harmful for every organ in your body, including your heart. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that smoking raises your risk of heart disease, particularly when combined with other risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and being overweight.

You can't change the dangerous effects of smoking, or the fact that smoking damages your heart. But what you can do is gather commitment and support from the people you love - along with your healthcare providers - to help bolster your efforts to quit. If you put your heart into quitting smoking, and reach out to your community for help, you're much more likely to stay on track.

Building a Support Team
While your own motivation is the most important factor in your efforts to quit, the people in your community can also play a role in your success. If you reach out and ask for help, you can build a support team to assist you in your mission to quit.

Remember: No one can help if you don't ask. The common denominator for every member of your support team is you. To ensure that your supporters can assist you effectively, take the time to communicate with each person on your team to explain what you need:

  • Family: There are many ways that family members can support you. If your spouse or others in your family smoke, request that they try to quit with you. Or, at the very least, ask them to refrain from smoking around you. Look for ways that your household can be arranged to discourage smoking. For example, remove ashtrays from common areas indoors and from patios. If other family members do the shopping, be sure to let them know to leave cigarettes and lighters off the list!
  • Friends and coworkers: Your good friends at work, and outside of work, can make or break your efforts to quit. If you used to take smoke breaks with certain friends, let them know about the changes you're making. Ask for their support to replace your former mutual habit with something you can do together that's healthier, like taking a walk around the block.
  • Medical providers: In addition to moral support, your doctor and other healthcare providers can offer resources, or even prescribe medicines, if you need more help to quit. If you're struggling to make quitting stick, ask your doctor whether a smoking cessation aid, such as a nicotine patch or gum, might be right for you. You can also ask your doctor about medications that may make it easier for you to quit.

Quit for Your Heart
If you need extra incentive to quit smoking, first consider how smoking harms your organs and increases your risk of heart disease. Then, go one step further by reaching out to your community to help you. There is strength in numbers when it comes to building a support team. And, there is strength in the number "zero" when it comes to how many cigarettes to allow into your life. If you stick with your decision to quit, you'll get a big thank you from your heart and your loved ones.