Originally created 05/22/01

Staying away from cigarettes takes dedication, commitment

THIS WEEK'S PROBLEM I started smoking when I was 8 years old. About a year ago, I stopped. But it seems like every time I argue with my parents or I get depressed, I start back smoking. I really want to stop, and I need some advice, some hints on how to stop smoking. - 15-year-old Augusta girl

Here's what you had to say:

Seek friends and other alternatives to smoking. It's totally uncool. If you can't do it on your own and stop cold turkey, you need to get some help.

OK, if you want to quit smoking, you can try the nicotine gum, the nicotine patch. There are so many ways to quit. If someone tries to give you one, just turn it down. That's how I quit. I started smoking at 7, and I'm 17 now.

Xtreme reporter Alisa DeMao says: A lot of people find it hard to quit smoking. It usually takes two or three tries, so don't give up.

The Centers for Disease Control offers some tips. First of all, make sure your environment is smoke-free. Get rid of leftover cigarettes, ashtrays - anything that reminds you of smoking.

Get support from your friends and family. Studies show this can make a big difference. If you don't want your parents to know you smoke, tell your friends that you're trying to quit.

You also need to find alternative ways to deal with stress and depression. Try a few things and see what works best. Do something to pamper yourself.

Find something else to do with your hands. Take up a hobby or get one of those squishy stress balls and knead it. Chew gum or keep low-cal snacks on hand. Veggies such as celery, with a snap and crunch, will provide a sensory experience that may help distract you from the craving without racking up calories.

You may want to talk to your doctor. Don't automatically turn to nicotine patches or nicotine gum. At your age, you don't need to be putting those chemicals into your body.

Sadie Stockton, tobacco-use prevention coordinator for the East Central Health District of Georgia, conducts classes on how to stop smoking. Call 729-2055 for information.

Next week's problem

My friend and I are really close, and we always talk with each other. And now everyone in my school is calling us gay - and we're not. What should I say to these people?

Do you have any advice for this 13-year-old Augusta girl? Call the Advice Line at 442-4444 and press 8614. You'll have one minute to answer.

Got a problem? Call 442-4444 and press 8613. You'll have one minute to give us your situation. Please speak clearly and state your age and the town you live in.

You also can e-mail your problems to ademao@augustachronicle.com. Put "Advice Line" in the subject line. All e-mail addresses will be kept confidential. Questions may be condensed for space.


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