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Tips For Actions You Can Take To Quit Smoking...And Quit Smoking For Good 

by the U.S. National Institutes of Health


* Switch Brands    * Cut Down the Number of Cigarettes You Smoke   * Don't Smoke "Automatically"    * Make Smoking Inconvenient    * Make Smoking Unpleasant




* Avoid Temptation    * When You Get the Crazies    * Find New Habits    * About Gaining Weight    * Tips To Help You Avoid Weight Gain


* Immediate Rewards    * Immediate Effects    * Long-Range Benefits



* Congratulations!    * Keep Your Guard Up    * How To Dampen That Urge    * Not Smoking Is Habit-Forming    * Relapse: If You Do Smoke Again



The following information guides you from thinking about stopping smoking through actually doing it-from the day you quit smoking , to quitting for keeps. It gives tips on fighting temptation-and what to do if you give in-and on avoiding weight gain (a handy Snack Calorie Chart is included). By telling you what to expect, it can help you through the day-by-day process of becoming a nonsmoker.

In this booklet, you'll find a variety of tips and helpful hints on kicking the habit. Take a few moments to look at each suggestion carefully. Pick those you feel comfortable with and decide today that you're going to use them to quit. It may take a while to find the combination that's right for you, but you can stop smoking for good, even if you've tried to quit before.

Many smokers have successfully given up cigarettes by replacing them with new habits without quitting "cold turkey," planning a special program, or seeking professional help.

The following approaches include many of those most popular with ex-smokers. Remember that successful methods are as different as the people who use them. What may seem silly to others may be just what you need to quit smoking. So don't be embarrassed to try something new. These methods can make your own personal efforts a little easier.

Pick the ideas that make sense to you. And then follow through. You'll have a much better chance of success. 


    * Decide positively that you want to quitsmoking. Try to avoid negative thoughts about how difficult it might be.

    * List all the reasons you want to quitsmoking. Every night before going to bed, repeat one of those reasons 10 times.

    * Develop strong personal reasons in addition to your health and obligations to others. For example, think of all the time you waste taking cigarette breaks, rushing out to buy a pack, hunting for a light, etc.

    * Begin to condition yourself physically: Start a modest exercise program; drink more fluids; get plenty of rest; and avoid fatigue.

    * Set a target date to stop smoking - perhaps a special day such as your birthday, your anniversary, or the Great American Smokeout. If you smoke heavily at work, quit during your vacation so that you're already committed to quitting when you return. Make the date sacred and don't let anything change it. This will make it easy for you to keep track of the day you became a nonsmoker and to celebrate that date every year. 


    * Have realistic expectations-quitting isn't easy, but it's not impossible either. More than 3 million Americans quit every year.

    * Understand that withdrawal symptoms are temporary. They usually last only 1-2 weeks.

    * Know that most relapses occur in the first week after quitting, when withdrawal symptoms are strongest, and your body is still dependent on nicotine. Be aware that this will be your hardest time and use all your personal resources, willpower, family, friends, and the tips in this booklet-to get you through this critical period successfully.

    * Know that most other relapses occur in the first 3 months after quitting, when situational triggers, such as a particularly stressful event, occur unexpectedly. These are the times when people reach for cigarettes automatically, because they associate smoking with relaxing. This is the kind of situation that's hard to prepare yourself for until it happens, so it's especially important to recognize it if it does happen. Remember that smoking is a habit, but a habit you can break.

    * Realize that most successful ex-smokers quit for good only after several attempts. You may be one of those who can quit on your first try. But if you're not, don't give up. Try again.


    * Bet a friend you can quit on your target date. Put your cigarette money aside for every day you don't smoke and forfeit it if you smoke. (But if you do smoke, don't give up. Simply strengthen your resolve and try again.)

    * Ask your friend or spouse to quit with you.

    * Tell your family and friends that you're quitting and when. They can be an important source of support both before and after you quit.


Switch Brands

    * Switch to a brand you find distasteful.

    * Change to a brand that is low in tar and nicotine a couple of weeks before your target 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. These actions will increase your nicotine intake, and the idea is to get 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 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 seven cigarettes a day, it's time to set your target date to quit 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 into a mirror each time you put a match to your cigarette-you may decide you don't need it. 

Make Smoking Inconvenient

    * 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.

Make Smoking Unpleasant

    * 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. 


    * 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 for a long time. 


    * Throw away all your cigarettes and matches. Hide your lighters and ashtrays.

    * 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 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.


    * 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 quitsmoking, 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, such as a pencil, a paper clip, a marble.

    * If you miss having something in your mouth, try toothpicks or a fake cigarette. 

Avoid Temptation 

    * Instead of smoking after meals, get up from the table and brush your teeth or go for a walk.

    * If you always smoke while driving, listen to a particularly interesting radio program or your favorite music, or take public transportation for a while, if you can.

    * For the first 1-3 weeks, avoid situations you strongly associate with the pleasurable aspects of smoking, such as watching your favorite TV program, sitting in your favorite chair, or having a cocktail before dinner.

    * Until you are confident of your ability to stay off cigarettes, limit your socializing to healthful, outdoor activities or situations where smoking is not allowed.

    * If you must be in a situation where you'll be tempted to smoke, such as a cocktail or dinner party, try to associate with the nonsmokers there.

    * Try to analyze cigarette ads to understand how they attempt to "sell" you on individual brands. 

When You Get A Little Nutty

    * Keep oral substitutes handy. Try carrots, pickles, sunflower seeds, apples, celery, raisins, or sugarless gum instead of a cigarette.

    * Take 10 deep breaths and hold the last one while lighting a match. Exhale slowly and blow out the match. Pretend it's a cigarette and crush it out in an ashtray.

    * Take a shower or bath if possible.

    * Learn to relax quickly and deeply. Make yourself limp, visualize a soothing, pleasing situation and get away from it all for a moment. Concentrate on that peaceful image and nothing else.

    * Light incense or a candle instead of a cigarette.

    * Never allow yourself to think that "one won't hurt" -it will.

Find New Habits 

    * 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. When your desire for a cigarette is intense, wash your hands or the dishes, or try new recipes.

    * Do things that require you to use your hands. Try crossword puzzles, needlework, gardening, or household chores. Go bike riding or take the dog for a walk; give yourself a manicure; write letters.

    * Enjoy having a clean-mouth taste and maintain it by brushing your teeth frequently and using a mouthwash.

    * Stretch a lot.

    * Get plenty of rest.

    * Pay attention to your appearance. Look and feel sharp.

    * Try to find time for the activities that are the most meaningful, satisfying, and important to you.

About Gaining Weight

Many people who are considering quitting are very concerned about gaining weight. If you are concerned about weight gain, keep these points in mind: 

    * Quitting doesn't mean you'll automatically gain weight. When people gain, it's because they often eat more once they quit.

    * The benefits of giving up cigarettes far outweigh the drawbacks of adding a few pounds. You'd have to gain a very large amount of weight to offset the many substantial health benefits that a normal smoker gains by quitting. Watch what you eat, and if you are concerned about gaining weight, consider the tips that follow.

Tips To Help You Avoid Weight Gain

   * Make sure you have a well balanced diet, with the proper amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

    * Don't set a target date for a holiday, when the temptation of high-calorie food and drinks may be too hard to resist.

    * Drink a glass of water before your meals.

    * Weigh yourself weekly.

    * Chew sugarless gum when you want sweet foods.

    * Plan menus carefully and count calories. Don't try to lose weight; just try to maintain your prequitting weight.

    * Have low-calorie foods on hand for nibbling. Choose foods that are both nutritious and low in calories. Some good choices are fresh fruits and vegetables, fruit and vegetable juices, low-fat cottage cheese, and air-popped popcorn without butter.

    * Take time for daily exercise or join an organized exercise group.


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The comments inherent in this website are the opinions of the authors and should not be construed as medical advice and is meant for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical professional about smoking cessation and any other health related questions or concerns.

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