If you've been thinking about quitting smoking but haven't tried because you're afraid of how bad it will feel, think again. People who quit feel better and happier.

Sure, there are problems at the start. But they do go away.

A study from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine found that people who quit reported a better quality of life and better mood than those who still smoked.

The study looked at surveys of over 1,500 Wisconsin residents who had taken part in a smoking cessation trial. The people were followed for three years and their smoking status was confirmed by blood tests to deal with the problem of people claiming that they've quit when they really haven't.

Quitting smoking isn't a bed of roses. It takes will and dedication. But it can be done.

Though researchers were unable to put an exact number on how much better the people who quit felt, those who quit felt a definite gain in happiness and less stress in their life.

There are lots of unexpected bonuses for quitters to look forward to. Most show up quickly.

No more 2 AM trips in the pouring rain when your cigarette supply unexpectedly runs out. Food tastes better than it has in years because your taste buds are coming back to life. People are friendlier; no more glares from folks who don't like your smoke. These are all immediate benefits that should improve your mood and outlook. There's also bound to be something you can do with all the extra money that won't be going to the tobacco companies anymore. And of course, there are the health benefits.

Quitting smoking isn't a bed of roses. It takes will and dedication. But it can be done. And there's plenty of help available. Nicotine patches and gum seem to be the most popular aid, though some research has found their effectiveness questionnable. Some people have found text messaging very helpful. Perhaps tweets can do the same.

The weather's going to be awful until next spring. February trips to the store for cigarettes just don't make for fond winter memories. That's one reason that New Year's is such a good time to quit. It only takes a second to start out. And it could make 2012 a very memorable year.

As the Wisconsin study points out, life without cigarettes isn't only possible, it's also happier.

An article on the study was published online by Annals of Behavioral Medicine.