When you decided to quit smoking, you are half way there. It is the beginning of a challenging and beautiful journey for the winners. For those who successfully quit smoking, you will look back to your smoking years and feel proud you do so.
According to CDC.gov, cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths every year, or about 1 in 5 deaths.
In 2018, nearly 14 of every 100 U.S. adults aged 18 years or older (13.7%) currently* smoked cigarettes. This means an estimated 34.2 million adults in the United States currently smoke cigarettes.2 More than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease.
Current smoking has declined from 20.9% (nearly 21 of every 100 adults) in 2005 to 13.7% (nearly 14 of every 100 adults) in 2018, and the proportion of ever smokers who have quit has increased.
Quoted from NHS.uk, Every cigarette you smoke is harmful so your decision for quit smoking is the best decision.
Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable deaths in England, accounting for nearly 80,000 deaths each year. One in two smokers will die from a smoking-related disease such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, cancer and other health risks.
Every 15 cigarettes you smoke will cause a mutation in your body, mutations are how cancers start. If you could see the damage, you’d stop.
Laws around the world often have some restrictions on smoking, but 6 trillion cigarettes are still produced each year, representing over a 12% increase since the year 2000. China producing over 40% of current world production. Tobacco is often heavily taxed to gain revenues for governments and as an incentive for people not to smoke.
Step by step to quit smoking
- Make the Decision to Quit
- Understand Your High-Risk Times
- Stock Up on Supplies
- Pick a Quit Date
- Let People Know
- Remove Smoking Reminders
- The First 2 Weeks
- Maintenance and Coping Strategies
Step 1: Make the Decision to Quit
Identify your reasons for quitting smoking. Quitting is challenging. You can rise to the challenge, but it helps if you have your goals in mind. Review your mental list as you approach your quit date.
If you have tried to quit smoking before and failed, don’t let that be an obstacle. The more times you try to quit, the greater your chance of success. Maybe you weren’t ready last time. Maybe you didn’t take the rights steps.
Step 2: Understand Your High-Risk Times
Smoking is more than just a physical addiction to nicotine. It is also a psychological addiction. Why do you smoke? Is it a break from your hectic day? Is it a moment of peace when you can be alone with your thoughts? Most people smoke for the same reasons alcoholics drink. It’s a chance to escape, relax, or reward yourself.
Anticipate your high-risk situations and plan for them. This will help you deal with them better. Here are some common triggers for smoking cravings:
- Drinking coffee
- Finishing a meal
- Driving your car
- Using the phone
- Stressful situations
- Drinking alcohol
- Social events
These are some strategies for dealing with your triggers:
- If you smoke with your morning coffee, plan to have your first coffee at work where you probably can’t smoke.
- If you smoke while driving, plan to take a different route. It will keep your mind occupied, so that you won’t be on autopilot.
- If you smoke after meals, plan to get up after a meal. Go for a walk, brush your teeth, do something.
- If you smoke when you’re on the phone, put one of those stress balls next to your phone to keep your hands occupied.
- Plan to keep yourself busy in the beginning. Too much unstructured time is not a good thing when it comes to smoking cessation.
- What should you do if you slip? A slip is also a high risk time. You don’t need to slip. Many people have quit without a slip. But if you do, it’s good to have a plan.
The most important thing you can do is avoid all or nothing thinking. Don’t give up and let a slip turn into a major relapse.
- Throw out the rest of the pack.
- You’re not a failure if you slip.
- The more times you try to quit, the greater your chance of success.
- Learn from your experience. What you could have done differently.
- Never forget your reasons for quitting in the first place.
Step 3: Stock Up on Supplies
Every smoker understands that smoking is also an oral addiction. When you quit smoking your brain will still crave the oral sensation of a cigarette. As part of your smoking cessation plan, stock up on oral substitutes like gum, raw vegetables, carrot sticks, hard candy, coffee stirrers, straws, etc.
If you’re planning to use nicotine replacement or smoking cessation drugs, talk to your doctor at this point. Learn how to use them. Find out about potential side effects and what to look out for.
Step 4: Pick a Quit Date
A quit date is a personal commitment. It is important because it prepares your mind subconsciously. Pick a date within the next month. It doesn’t have to be a special day.
Avoid a day when you know you’ll be busy, tense, or have a special event that could be a trigger. Write down your quit date somewhere, and look at it every day. Let your determination build as you get closer.
If you are going to use smoking cessation medication like Zyban (Wellbutrin, bupropion) or Chantix (Champix, varenicline), your doctor may have suggested that you start using them early. Ask your doctor how far ahead of your quit date you should start taking your pills.
Step 5: Let People Know
Quitting is easier with support. Choose people who you think will be helpful. Tell them your plan and how they can help. Also tell them how they cannot help.
- Friends can help distract you.
- They can listen to you.
- Sharing your struggles makes them lighter.
- But explain that you want to keep your conversations light. Nothing serious that will add to your tension.
Step 6: Remove All Smoking Reminders
Smoking like any addiction is triggered by people, places, and things. For other addictions, the objects that are triggers are usually drug paraphernalia. In this case the paraphernalia include cigarettes, matches, lighters, and ashtrays. Get rid of all of them. Don’t save anything “just in case.”
Freshen your environment at home, work‚ and in your car. The smell of cigarettes is definitely a trigger, especially in the beginning.
Step 7: The First 2 Weeks
The first two weeks are critical for your success. If you can get though the first two weeks your chance of success is much higher.(3) Therefore it is important to give yourself the best chance you can during these critical weeks.
The first two weeks are all about distractions, keeping busy, and being good to yourself. Keep busy with fun, low stress activities and avoid high stress ones.
- Stay Busy
Plan lots of dates with friends. Get out of the house. Go for walks, bike rides, or go to the gym. Go to a movie. Be good to yourself.
Keep your hands busy. Some people like to use a pen, a straw or a coffee stirrer.
- Drink lots of water.
- Call the people who have offered to help. Everyone understands how difficult this is. People will be happy that you’re doing it. Don’t try to do it alone.
- If you just sit there with your cravings, you are giving them room to grow.
- Relax and breathe deeply.
- Avoid High Risk Situations
Don’t hang out with smokers. That’s like a crack addict hanging out with crack addicts. No matter how friendly and supportive your smoking friends are, they are still a high risk environment for at least the first several months.
- Practice saying, “No thank you, I don’t smoke anymore.”
- Understand that you will encounter high risk situations that you haven’t thought of. If you find yourself triggered, plan to get up and leave quickly.
- A change of scenery can make all the difference.
- Talk to Yourself
Most cravings only last 10 – 20 minutes. Distract yourself, and the cravings will pass. When you think about using, talk to yourself and keep yourself busy.
“I refuse to believe that smoking is more powerful than me.”
“I won’t give smoking any more power over my life.”
“I chose to be a non-smoker.”
“One day at a time.”
Step 8: Maintenance and Coping Strategies
Quit smoking one day at a time. Don’t think about quitting forever. That can be overwhelming. Deal with right now, and the days will start to add up.
Be good to yourself. This is probably the most important and undervalued coping strategy in quitting smoking. It is one of the most difficult things for anyone to do, especially someone with an addiction.
- Your tendency will be to not reward yourself while you’re quitting. You’ll think that you don’t deserve it yet. You will think that you only deserve a reward once you have had a long stretch of not smoking. But that’s old thinking. This is your opportunity to learn better coping strategies.
- How you can be good to yourself is different for everyone. Pursue new ways of rewarding yourself the same way you pursued your addiction. You are learning new thinking patterns that will be helpful in the rest of your life.
- Don’t try to diet while quitting smoking. Too much deprivation is bound to backfire. Instead, try eating more fruits and vegetables.
- Celebrate Your Victories
- Don’t focus on your struggles and ignore your successes. You probably tend to disqualify the positives and focus on the negatives. But don’t underestimate how far you have come. Reinforce your victories.
- Take the money you’ve saved and buy yourself a treat once a week. Or save the money for something bigger like a trip.
- Plan ahead for your milestones and make sure you recognize them with some celebration, big or small.
- Rewards don’t have to be financial. You could plan to get together with your friends and do something.
- Stress Management
- Get plenty of rest and eat healthy. Lack of sleep and excessive sugar are known triggers.
- Use substitutes for oral cravings like gum, raw vegetables, carrot sticks, hard candy, coffee stirrers, straws.
- Stress is a big trigger for smoking.
- Relax by taking a few slow, deep breaths. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Repeat it 5 times and see how you feel.
- When you have cravings, think of how strong you have been so far.
- Remember your reasons for quitting.
- Refuse to let your addiction win.
- Think of the benefits to your health, finances, and family.
- Remind yourself that there is no such thing as just one cigarette.
- Start to see yourself as a non-smoker. That is the ultimate payoff. You are freeing yourself from the control of your addiction.
Quit smoking reading material and trainings
- Quit Smoking Magic
- Mind Master – Quit Smoking
- Easyquit System
- Smoke Free In One Hour
- Truth Of Addiction Help With Addiction
One of the main concerns with electronic cigarettes is that they mimic the use of regular cigarettes. If part of your reason for quitting smoking is that you don’t want to be controlled by your nicotine addiction, then electronic cigarettes would not be a good choice.
Anyhow it is a good way to control your nicotine withdrawal
Good luck in quitting