New Year's Resolutions 2018: How to Stop Smoking Cigarettes

Stats show that most smokers do want to give up the habit. INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images

It's almost a new year, which means many people will attempt to become brand new versions of their 2017 selves. And as far as New Year's resolutions go, many smokers will try to finally kick the habit in 2018.

Related: Tobacco Companies Admit Smoking Will Kill You, Thanks to Federally Mandated Ads

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 36.5 million American adults smoked cigarettes as of 2015. Among Americans who smoke, 68 percent say they want to quit for good, the CDC reports.

But giving up cigarettes isn't easy, as most smokers can attest. Nicotine is addictive and causes your body to go through withdrawal when it doesn't receive a constant supply. In addition to the immediate cravings and withdrawal symptoms, people who quit smoking may continue to struggle with breaking the habit long after those initial challenges subside.

Recent studies have shown that some people have a harder time than others giving up cigarettes. In a 2015 study published in Neuropsychopharmacology, researchers found that smokers who had an easier time quitting cigarettes had more activity in an area of the brain that helps regulate cravings and urges. The reason for this difference isn't clear, but the finding underscores the fact that some people have a really hard time stopping smoking.

Despite the struggle, overcoming these challenges can greatly improve quality of life at any age. Within a year of breaking the addiction, coronary heart disease risk is reduced to half of what it would be when smoking, according to the American Lung Association. Within months, quitting reduces your risk of heart attack and improves lung function. And continuing the habit is dangerous. Cigarette smoking is the top risk factor for lung cancer, associated with up to 90 percent of cases. Nearly one in five deaths every year are due to smoking, which also causes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

So what is the best way to give up smoking? Most smokers quit without using scientifically backed methods. But if you've struggled to quit for years, a few methods might make it easier:

Some believe that e-cigarettes can help people give up the real deal. One report looking at more than 161,000 people in the United States over 15 years found the devices were linked to an increase in the smoking cessation rate of people who smoked for a minimum of one year and stopped for at least three months, reported Wired UK. The study was published in The BMJ. In 2016, however, CBS reported that a review of 38 studies indicated that e-cigarettes actually hurt someone's chances of quitting.

Cold Turkey
It may seem like the most drastic method, but giving up the habit on day one—January 1, 2018, let's say—might be the best option, according to one study. In March 2016, CNN reported people who picked a day to give up smoking fared better than those who gradually scaled back on their cigarettes. Both groups did receive some assistance: those who gave up cigarettes cold turkey used nicotine patches for two weeks prior to their end date. Those who gave up cigarettes more slowly used used gum, lozenges and patches. Both groups received counseling and nicotine patches after quitting.

App-Based Support Programs
For some, tracking progress may help, sort of like dieters who log their calories via weight loss apps. QuitGuide aims to make giving up cigarettes easier with its smartphone app that lets you track smoking triggers, cravings, and progress. Plus it offers motivational tips and messages to keep you going.