How to Quit Smoking

SMOKING: How to Quit

Good for you, something has happened that helped you decide to quit smoking. The task of quitting is not easy but it’s not impossible either. To find the right combination for you may take a while, but you can quit and quit for good. This brochure has tips on how to quit. Pick the ideas that make sense to you, follow through and you’ll have a better chance of success.

There are many good reasons to quit smoking. Maybe you realize that smoking is not something you want to do but something you have to do because you are addicted to nicotine. Maybe you are under pressure from family and friends . Has it become too difficult to find a place to smoke? The best reason is that you finally realized what smoking does to your health. Regardless of how long you have been smoking, quitting will reduce your risk of lung cancer, emphysema (the disease that destroys the ability to breathe), and smoking related heart diseases.

Remember that nicotine is addicting. As a smoker your body has developed both a physical and behavioral dependence on nicotine. Smoking has caused changes in your body and in the way you act. Changes in the way you act start over time, as you buy, lite, and smoke cigarettes. People smoke for different reasons and each person develops various smoking habits.

When you stop smoking you experience withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, irritability, frustration, and find yourself craving a cigarette. You may think this is all in your head, but it’s more than that, it’s also physical. Your body is craving nicotine. Understand that withdrawal symptoms are temporary and usually last 1-2 weeks.

Many situations are likely to make you want a cigarette. This might include a simple act of drinking coffee, talking on the telephone, eating a meal, having a drink,or feeling stressed. These situations vary depending on your smoking habits and are examples of behavioral dependence on nicotine.
Be aware that withdrawal symptoms are the strongest during the first week because your body is still dependent on nicotine.  This will be your hardest time and you will have to use willpower,
family, friends, other personal resources, and tips in this brochure to get you through this critical time successfully.

To become a successful ex-smoker won’t be easy, and you may have to make more than one attempt to quit. Don’t give up, try again. Your health care provider can give you information
about resources that can help you become a successful exsmoker.

Decide positively that you want to stop smoking. Make a list of all the reasons you want to quit. Develop strong personal reasons in addition to your health and obligations to others.  Pick a date that is special, like your birthday or anniversary.  Set a quit date that makes it easiest for you to celebrate the anniversary of your last day as a smoker and your first day as a non-smoker. Mark that date on your calendar.  Involve family or friends and tell them you are quitting and when. Ask someone to quit with you. These individuals can be an important source of support both before and after you quit.  Think about how to reward yourself for making a difficult change in your life. Save the money you would spend on cigarettes and apply it to special rewards for yourself.

Plan many substitutes to get you past the urge to smoke. These items become your survival kit. For
oral satisfaction, try low calorie snacks, sugarless chewing gum, even toothpicks. Keep your fingers
busy with pencils, rubber bands, coffee stirrers, or puzzles. Keep these items at the office, at home and in the car.

Decide in advance how you want to quit. Will you taper off cigarettes or quit cold turkey? When you taper off, your nicotine level drops gradually so that withdrawal symptoms may be less severe. Some people use nicotine gum or the nicotine patch which are available without a prescription. New products are also available by prescription to help you taper off cigarettes.  Going cold turkey rids your body of nicotine in about 48 hours or so. Your withdrawal experience will likely be more severe, but it will subside more quickly.

Tips to Help You Quit
• Stop carrying cigarettes with you at home and to work.
• Switch to a brand that is low in tar and nicotine.
• Smoke fewer cigarettes and decide in advance how many you will smoke in a day.
• Make smoking inconvenient. Buy one pack at a time and wait until the pack is empty to buy    another. Put all of your smoking items in one out of the way place.
• Change your eating habits. Drink tea instead of coffee or reach for juice instead of a cigarette for a “pick me up”.
• Make smoking unpleasant. Instead of smoking with others, smoke alone.
• Delay lighting up longer and longer.
• Make yourself aware of the number of cigarettes you smoke in a day. Collect your cigarette butts in a glass jar. This will be a visual reminder of how much you smoke and of the filth of smoking.
• Tell yourself you won’t smoke today and don’t.

Even though you have made a firm commitment to stop smoking, you will often be tempted to start again. The urge to smoke after you have quit is often triggered by activities you have associated with smoking. Identifying these triggers will help you to avoid those activities and situations that made you want to smoke.

The following tips can be helpful:
• Reread your reasons for wanting to quit.
• Work to have a clean, fresh, smoke free environment at home and work.
• Try to avoid coffee, alcohol, or other beverages that you associate with cigarette smoking.
• Spend as much free time as possible in smoke free places.
• Put off seeing a chain smoking relative or friend.
• Keep your hands busy, doodle, play with rubber bands or pencils.
• Use those items in your survival kit.
• Limit your socializing to healthful, outdoor activities or situations where smoking is not allowed.
• Call a support person, unload your feelings.
• Get plenty of exercise.

Any one of these products may be used as ways to take nicotine into the body instead of smoking. These products may help you to overcome your physical craving for cigarettes and reduce withdrawal symptoms.  Some brands of these products are available without prescription. New products are now available by prescription to help you overcome your craving for nicotine. However, to better understand how these products work, talk to your health care provider.

Now that you’ve quit, you’ve added a number of healthy
productive days to your life. Most important, you’ve greatly
improved your chances for a long life. Now you are ready to
develop a new habit, the habit of not smoking. Not smoking will
require conscious effort and practice on your part.

Slipping back into the smoking habit should be a concern, and for good reason. You will be tempted to start smoking again. As a nonsmoker you will have to avoid letting your urges and cravings for a cigarette lead you to smoke. Consider these tips:
• Take one day at a time.
• Remind yourself that you are a nonsmoker and remember what you experienced to get there.
• Be aware of your social triggers and avoid them.
• Use relaxation techniques like deep breathing.
• Get social support from family, friends, and co-workers.
• Use the power of positive thinking and recognize the benefits of being smoke-free.
• If you think you need professional help, see your health care provider.

Unfortunately, many ex-smokers slip and start smoking again, at least once before they quit for good.  Smoking again doesn’t mean you are a failure or that you can’t become an ex-smoker. What’s important is that you identify those triggers that made you lite up again and get yourself back on track.

You may need professional help that can provide extra motivation and support. Never hesitate to talk to your health care provider.  Staying away from cigarettes is not easy. You may be one of
those people who are successful on the first try, but if not, don’t give up. Keep trying.

Contact your local American Lung Association, American
Cancer Society, or American Heart Association, Nicotine
Anonymous, or call the National Cancer Institute Cancer
Information Service at 800-4-CANCER.
Clearing the Air- How To Quit Smoking and Quit for Good:
National Cancer Institute 9/92