Make this the year you stop smoking, sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield

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The New Year is a good time to stop smoking and gain control of your health. Smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. Sadly, about 443,000 Americans and 6,500 Louisianans die from smoking each year. Quitting can prevent lung cancer and help you live a healthier life. The American Cancer Society offers these tips for quitting:

• Make the decision to quit, set a quit date and share it. This will help you get support from others.

• Make a plan to manage your day without smoking. This might include activities like exercise, walking, chewing gum, relaxing, meditation or medication.

• Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about medications that can help you quit.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield offers programs and services that help members quit smoking. And the Louisiana Department of Health offers information on smoking cessation through its Well-Ahead Louisiana program and Well-Ahead website.