Experts from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital are ready to answer readers’ questions. Send your questions to askthedoc@rwjbh.org.

For many Americans, the first of January is filled with hope and resolve to make positive changes. It may be a promise to exercise more, choose healthier foods or even spend time with family. For many, it was the life-changing decision to quit smoking.

Dr. Kevin F. Law.

“There truly is no ‘bad’ time to quit smoking,” says Dr. Kevin F. Law, who specializes in pulmonology, critical care and sleep care and is affiliated with RWJBarnabas Health-Hamilton, “but tobacco dependence is an addiction and it’s important to understand that quitting takes preparation and thought to ensure your efforts are successful.”

If you are finding yourself struggling to fulfill your resolution to quit smoking, you are certainly not alone. To help make your quit efforts successful, Dr. Law offers these suggestions:

The New Year certainly comprises more than only one day. Try thinking of your plan to quit smoking as the “Quitting Season,” and choose a quit date. “Your quit date doesn’t have to be on Jan. 1 to make it a New Year’s resolution,” explains Vivian Owusu-Mensah, lung navigator and smoking cessation specialist at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Hamilton. “Picking a date in February, or even March, is a positive step in the right direction.”

Vivian Owusu-Mensah.

One of the keys to successfully quitting smoking is having a strong support system. “Letting your friends and family know your plans can help you stay on track,” adds Owusu-Mensah. “Also, be sure to share your success. The encouragement of loved ones is often what helps motivate us.”

Write it down! Whether it’s your reasons for quitting, what you will do with the money you save, strategies for dealing with situations that trigger your desire to smoke, or a list of things that will help keep you entertained when a craving approaches, writing can help you focus on your goals and plans.

Drink plenty of water. Water helps in so many ways when dealing with the challenges of quitting. It helps curb hunger, aides your body in healing the damage caused by smoking, and it doesn’t even have any calories!

Most importantly, do not hesitate to reach out for assistance and support from professionals. RWJUH Hamilton offers a specialized Smoking Cessation program featuring a customized quit-smoking plan; ongoing individual, group and/or family counseling; up-to-date information on the latest prescription and non-prescription smoking medications; effective tools to reduce withdrawal symptoms; and weight and stress management strategies.

For more information about the Smoking Cessation Program at RWJUH Hamilton, or to schedule a free, confidential assessment, please call Vivian Owusu-Mensah, CNP, APN-BC, OCN, CTTS, lung navigator and smoking cessation specialist at (609) 584-2826.