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If you do not smoke, congratulations! Don’t start.
If you smoke, we hope that you are thinking about quitting. It is not easy giving up something that is so much a part of what you do every day. However, the reward of a tobacco-free lifestyle is remarkable.
There are no magic solutions for quitting smoking. Nevertheless, if you are ready to quit, effective treatments are available that can help reduce the urge to smoke.
You can also contact a smoking cessation counselor at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Assistance is available in English and Spanish at 1-877-44U-QUIT. You can also receive confidential online counseling from NCI's Cancer Information Service by visiting LiveHelp.Smokefree.gov also offers web-based tools and tips to help you kick the habit.
Use alcohol moderately
In 2010 alone, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-related traffic crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Alcohol slows the brain’s ability to control the body and mind. It acts like a sedative and slows down muscle coordination, reflexes, movement, and speech. If you drink too much alcohol, your breathing or heart rate can reach dangerously low levels or even stop.
If you are of legal drinking age, remember that it is your choice whether to use alcohol or not. No one should feel pressured to drink or made to feel embarrassed because of a personal choice. Drinking alcohol should not be seen as a necessary component for having fun and being with friends. If you do choose to use alcohol, do so in moderation and know your personal limits.
If you are concerned that you might have a drinking problem, you can evaluate your drinking habits using the CAGE assessment. Don’t delay in seeking help. One well-known resource is Alcoholics Anonymous.
Practice healthy and safe sex
One way to look at healthy sex is “CERTS,” which stands for:
Consent - You can freely and comfortably choose whether or not to engage in sexual activity, and you are able to stop the activity at any time.
Equality - Your sense of personal power is on an equal level with your partner.
Respect - You have positive regard for yourself and for your partner, and you have mutual respect.
Trust - You trust your partner on both a physical and emotional level.
Safety - You feel secure, safe, and comfortable with where, when, and how the sexual activity takes place. You feel safe from the possibility of harm, such as unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infection, and physical injury.
CERTS can help you feel more secure in your relationship and increase your level of self-esteem.
Safety is a key part of healthy sex, including protecting yourself and your partner from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Stay informed about the latest information on disease prevention and birth control by reading materials from the local health department or reputable health education websites. Don’t hesitate to talk to your provider as well.
Wendy Maltz, an internationally recognized author and sex therapist, provides a Sexual Health Risks Checklist to test your knowledge of health involved in sexual activity.