There is no better time to kick bad habits than the start of a new year. If you’re one of the seven in 10 Americans who want to quit smoking, this is an opportune time to make strides to finally kick the habit.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. According to the CDC, 480,000 people die each year from smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke. The life expectancy of smokers is also at least 10 years shorter. The good news is, it is never too late to quit. Those who stop smoking before they are 40 reduce the risk of dying from a smoking-related complication by 90%.

Quitting is easier said than done, so it’s important to set yourself up for success. Board Certified Pulmonologist in Fort Myers, Imtiaz Ahmad, M.D., has seen the impact smoking has on the lungs. He founded Allergy, Sleep & Lung Care over a decade ago to help patients breathe better and live healthier. Dr. Ahmad says one of the most important things you need to quit smoking is a support network.

“It is vital that you create a support group for yourself to quit smoking,” said Dr. Ahmad. “Your loved ones can help you stay on track and be there to motivate and encourage you.” Those trying to quit also need to remember that the urge to smoke will wax and wane, just don’t give in.

Make sure that you rid your surroundings of cigarettes and avoid places with designated smoking areas so that you are not tempted. Drink water when you feel cravings coming on, and try to distract yourself with other tasks.

Going ‘cold turkey’ works for some people, but others need a little more help. Find alternatives to smoking that will work for you, whether it be counseling or nicotine replacement therapy.

The benefits of quitting smoking are endless. Within the first 20 minutes of quitting, your heart rate returns to normal. Within 48 hours, your sense of taste and smell improve. Within three weeks, you can exercise again without feeling winded, your blood circulation and heart functions improve, and your withdrawal symptoms subside after only two weeks.

If you need help quitting, visit or call 1-877-U-CAN-NOW for free.