We all know it’s not good for us and the risks increase the longer we do it, but smoking is a tough habit to kick, especially if you’ve been doing it nearly all of your life. However, smoking is also becoming much more taboo and there are fewer places where it’s tolerated, including just about any retirement community in Florida. So if you’re looking to give your lungs a break and want to quit smoking, here are some strategies to help you finally stop.

Smoking is a habit as much an addiction, so it is important to understand what triggers your urge to smoke. Whether it’s a cigarette with a cup of coffee or a drink or after a meal or whatever moments in your life always have you reaching for a smoke, think about those instances and try to find an alternative. You may need to change some of your daily habits, at least to start, so that you’re less inclined to reach for your cigarettes. Some are easier than others, but consider going for a walk around the block or brushing your teeth or finding some other activity to distract you and break your normal habits.

It also helps to have a plan. Are you going to quit cold turkey or are you going to aim for a gradual cessation? Depending on your personal triggers, one approach may work better than another. Either way, by planning and trying to come up with alternative actions, you’re less likely to sabotage yourself.

Don’t forget, though, that smoking is also an addiction and therefore you may need medical help to stop. Medicare covers smoking cessation counselling and you can also call 800-QUIT-NOW, a smoking cessation helpline. Both may be able to help you tailor a cessation plan that will work best for you.

There are also over-the-counter treatments to help you with nicotine withdrawal, such as nicotine gums, lozenges, and patches. These replacements improve your chances of quitting by 50-70%, which isn’t bad, especially if you pair them with behavioral modifications.

Of course, you can also talk to your doctor, who may or may not suggest prescription treatments if the over-the-counter options don’t seem to be working for you. Your doctor will also probably suggest that you use support groups and helplines, as well as try to get your family to support your efforts.

Giving up smoking isn’t easy and it does help to have support from family and friends. You may find others in your retirement community in Florida who are also trying to quit, so consider forming your own support group. If that first cup of coffee in the morning is a trigger, then meet with others to create a positive distraction. Really think about why you want to quit — not just for the health reasons — and realize that you’ll need to make an effort to break this bad habit. With some effort and support, you’ll have a much better chance of successfully stopping smoking.