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Kicking The Habit: Help Helps

hand with Cigarette, smoking
CBS/The Early Show
The death of ABC News anchorman and former smoker Peter Jennings from lung cancer, as well as the diagnosis of Dana Reeve have again put the spotlight on quitting smoking.

Former smokers often say stopping was the hardest thing they'd ever done.

In fact, only about five percent of smokers are able to quit successfully on their own.

The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay says that's because, as hard as it is to kick the habit, it's even harder when you don't have any support.

Senay suspects a lot of people overlook support groups when they're trying to quit.

The American Lung Association is a big proponent of smoking cessation groups. The association itself has one, called "Freedom From Smoking." Many towns have local support groups. You can contact yours to find a program near you, or you can find groups through the lung association and the American Cancer Society.

Just being around other smokers who want to quit can help tremendously, Senay points out.

And support from your family and the people around you can give you that extra push to keep going, and not to reach for that cigarette, she says

Using nicotine replacement therapy can double (or sometimes even triple) a smoker's chance of quitting successfully. There are several over-the-counter products that can help, including nicotine gum, patches and, most recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration, lozenges.

They all work on the same principle, Senay explains. They help relieve some of the withdrawal symptoms you experience when you quit smoking by delivering a low dose of nicotine into your system.

Such symptoms are frequently hard to overcome. They include irritability, headaches, cravings, sore throat, dry mouth, and even tightness of the chest.

Those products can help soften those symptoms and give you more of a chance of success.