How to Quit Smoking
Stop Smoking Action Plan
Nicotine: A Powerful Addiction
If you have tried to quit smoking, you know how hard it can be. It is hard because nicotine is a very addictive drug. For some people, it can be as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Quitting is hard and usually people make two or three tries, or more, before finally being able to quit smoking. Each time you try to quit, you can learn about what helps and what hurts. Quitting takes hard work and a lot of effort, but over time you can learn to quit smoking.
Five Keys for Quitting Smoking
Studies have shown that these five steps will help you quit and quit for good. You have the best chances of quitting if you use them together.
1. Get Ready
2. Get Support and Encouragement
- Set a 'quit smoking' date. Put it on your calendar and plan on being smoke free on that day.
- Change your environment. Start by getting rid of ALL cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car, and place of work, and be sure not to let people smoke in your home.
- Review your past attempts to quit smoking. Think about what worked and what did not.
- Once you quit, don't smoke again—NOT EVEN A PUFF!
The commitment to remain a nonsmoker can be made easier by talking about it with friends and relatives. They can congratulate you as you check off another day, week, and month as a nonsmoker. Studies have shown that you have a better chance of being successful if you have help. You can get support in many ways:
Remember to call on your friends when you are lonely or you feel an urge to smoke. A buddy system is a great technique.
- Tell your family, friends, and co-workers that you are going to quit smoking and want their support. Tell them that you might be tense for a while, so they know what to expect. They'll be sympathetic when you have an urge to smoke and can be counted on to help you resist it. Ask them not to smoke around you or leave cigarettes out.
- Talk to your health care provider (for example, doctor, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, psychologist, or smoking counselor) for advice and guidance.
- Get individual, group, or telephone counseling. The more counseling you have, the better your chances are of quitting. Programs are given at local hospitals and health centers. Call your local health department for information about programs in your area.
3. Learn New Skills and Behaviors
Try to distract yourself from urges to smoke. Talk to someone, go for a walk, or get busy with a task. Change your habits to make smoking difficult, impossible or unnecessary. For example, it's hard to smoke while you're swimming, jogging, or playing tennis or handball. Do things that require you to use your hands. When your desire for a cigarette is intense, wash your hands or the dishes. Try crossword puzzles, needlework, gardening, or household chores. Go bike riding or take the dog for a walk; give yourself a manicure; write letters.
You should also try something to reduce your stress. Take a hot bath, exercise, or read a book. Try to find time for the activities that are the most meaningful, satisfying, and important to you.
4. Get Medication and Use It Correctly
Medications can help you stop smoking and lessen the urge to smoke. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved five medications to help you quit smoking:
1.Bupropion SR—Available by prescription.
2.Nicotine gum—Available over-the-counter.
3.Nicotine inhaler—Available by prescription.
4.Nicotine nasal spray—Available by prescription.
5.Nicotine patch—Available by prescription and over-the-counter.
All of these medications will more or less double your chances of quitting and quitting for good. Ask your health care provider for advice and carefully read the information on the package. Be sure to drink a lot of water and other fluids as well.
Everyone who is trying to quit smoking may benefit from using a medication. If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, nursing, under age 18, smoking fewer than 10 cigarettes per day, or have a medical condition, talk to your doctor or other health care provider before taking medications.
5. Be Prepared for Relapse or Difficult Situations
Most relapses occur within the first 3 months after quitting smoking. Don't be discouraged if you start smoking again. Remember, most people try several times before they finally quit. Here are some difficult situations to watch for:
- Alcohol - Avoid drinking alcohol. Drinking lowers your chances of success.
- Other Smokers - Being around smoking can make you want to smoke.
- Weight Gain - Many smokers will gain weight when they quit, usually less than 10 pounds. Eat a healthy diet and stay active. Don't let weight gain distract you from your main goal. Some quit smoking medications may help delay weight gain.
- Bad Mood or Depression - There are a lot of ways to improve your mood other than smoking.
If you are having problems with any of these situations, talk to your doctor or other health care provider.
Additional Quitting Strategies
- Switch to a brand you find distasteful, you may be less likely to smoke them.
- Change to a brand that is low in tar and nicotine a couple of weeks before your target 'quit smoking' date. This will help change your smoking behavior. However, do not smoke more cigarettes, inhale them more often or more deeply, or place your fingertips over the holes in the filters. All of these will increase your nicotine intake, and may impede the goal of getting your body used to functioning without nicotine.
Cut Down the Number of Cigarettes You Smoke:
- Smoke only half of each cigarette.
- Each day, postpone the lighting of your first cigarette for 1 hour.
- Decide you'll only smoke during odd or even hours of the day.
- Decide beforehand how many cigarettes you'll smoke during the day. For each additional cigarette, give a dollar to your favorite charity.
- Change your eating habits to help you cut down. For example, drink milk, which many people consider incompatible with smoking. End meals or snacks with something that won't lead to a cigarette.
- Reach for a glass of juice instead of a cigarette for a "pick-me-up."
- Remember: Cutting down can help you quit smoking, but it's not a substitute for quitting. If you're down to about 7 cigarettes a day, it's time to set your target 'quit smoking' date and get ready to stick to it.
Don't Smoke "Automatically":
- Smoke only those cigarettes you really want. Catch yourself before you light up a cigarette out of pure habit.
- Don't empty your ashtrays. This will remind you of how many cigarettes you've smoked each day, and the sight and the smell of stale cigarettes butts will be very unpleasant.
- Make yourself aware of each cigarette by using the opposite hand or putting cigarettes in an unfamiliar location or a different pocket to break the automatic reach.
- If you light up many times during the day without even thinking about it, try to look in a mirror each time you put a match to your cigarette–you may decide you don't need it.
Make Smoking Inconvenient & Unpleasant:
- Stop buying cigarettes by the carton. Wait until one pack is empty before you buy another.
- Stop carrying cigarettes with you at home or at work. Make them difficult to get to.
- Smoke only under circumstances that aren't especially pleasurable for you. If you like to smoke with others, smoke alone. Turn your chair to an empty corner and focus only on the cigarette you are smoking and all its many negative effects.
- Collect all your cigarette butts in one large glass container as a visual reminder of the filth made by smoking.
Just Before Quitting:
- Practice going without cigarettes.
- Don't think of never smoking again. Think of quitting in terms of 1 day at a time.
- Tell yourself you won't smoke today, and then don't.
- Clean your clothes to rid them of the cigarette smell, which can linger a long time.
On the Day You Quit:
- Throw away all your cigarettes and matches. Hide your lighters and ash trays.
- Visit the dentist and have your teeth cleaned to get rid of tobacco stains. Notice how nice they look and resolve to keep them that way.
- Make a list of things you'd like to buy for yourself or someone else. Estimate the cost in terms of packs of cigarettes, and put the money aside to buy these presents.
- Keep very busy on the big day. Go to the movies, exercise, take long walks, go bike riding.
- Remind your family and friends that this is your 'quit smoking' date, and ask them to help you over the rough spots of the first couple of days and weeks.
- Buy yourself a treat or do something special to celebrate.
Immediately After Quitting:
- Develop a clean, fresh, nonsmoking environment around yourself –at work and at home. Buy yourself flowers–you may be surprised how much you can enjoy their scent now.
- The first few days after you quit smoking, spend as much free time as possible in places where smoking isn't allowed, such as libraries, museums, theaters, department stores, and churches.
- Drink large quantities of water and fruit juice (but avoid sodas that contain caffeine).
- Try to avoid alcohol, coffee, and other beverages that you associate with cigarette smoking.
- Strike up conversation instead of a match for a cigarette.
- If you miss the sensation of having a cigarette in your hand, play with something else–a pencil, a paper clip, a marble.
- If you miss having something in your mouth, try toothpicks or a fake cigarette.