8 Steps to Finally Quit Smoking
If quitting smoking is at the top of your new year’s resolutions, it is one of the biggest steps you can make to add years and better health to your life. Over time, smoking becomes a strong habit.
Daily events, like waking up in the morning, finishing a meal, drinking coffee, or taking a break at work, often trigger your urge to smoke. Breaking the link between the trigger and smoking will help you stop.
According to the American Cancer Society, tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US, yet more than 45 million Americans still smoke cigarettes. As of 2013, there were also 12.4 million cigar smokers in the US, 8.8 million smokeless tobacco users and 2.3 million who smoke tobacco in pipes. While there is no right way to quit for everyone, there are some guidelines to follow.
One of the best ways to get started is to write down all the reasons you want to quit. Maybe you want to improve your health, or you would like to be a better example for your children. Or perhaps you want to save money on the cost of cigarettes, A pack a day habit in New Jersey cost about three thousand dollars per year.
You also need to decide how you plan to quit. Do you want to use nicotine replacement therapy, prescription drugs, or another method? Stop-smoking programs, telephone quit lines, Nicotine Anonymous meetings, self-help materials, and smoking counselors can be a great help. Also tell your family and friends who can encourage you.. You might have heard Mark Twain’s observation that “Quitting smoking is easy – I’ve done it a thousand times” and most smoker agree.
Quitting smoking is hard and it takes time and effort but it is really worth it, especially if you have a family who counts on you. More than 48 million Americans already have quit smoking, improved their health and added years to their life and you can too. Contact NJ Quitline at 1-866-NJSTOPS or njquitline.org or check out these steps on on the road to becoming a non-smoker from the American Cancer Society.
Think of your resolution to stop smoking as a project, a process that will take some time, and not one that is a snap decision or that will take only a few days. Remember, you are starting on a journey to health and greater prosperity, but also undoing a psychological and physiological habit that took many years to develop.
It could be health, cost, family/friends, longer life, etc. – keep that list with you at all times and take it out and review it whenever you are tempted to smoke.
Decide on a quit date – maybe a birthday or an anniversary, maybe 3 or 4 weeks from the time you decide to become a nonsmoker (so you have time to prepare). In the days just before your quit date, remove all smoking paraphernalia from the house and your workplace – extra packs of cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays, etc. – anything that would tempt you to slip.
Enlist the help of your family, friends, and co-workers in your project. Warn them that you will likely be cranky for a few weeks, and ask them if you can call on them for support when you slip back to smoking or are tempted to do so. Share your list of reasons for quitting with them – it will help them support you.
Speak with your physician or your pharmacist about your plan – ask them for their advice and support and discuss with them whether one of the seven FDA-approved medications for quitting smoking (i.e. nicotine replacements, such as the gum or patch; Zyban, an antidepressant; or Chantix, which helps to block the effects of nicotine in your brain) might be useful for you.
Be prepared for some of the immediate, and often unpleasant, side effects of quitting, for example stomach upset, irritability, sleep disruption, coughing, and understand that these are good signs, that your body is repairing itself and making adjustments as the toxins from your years of smoking begin to subside.
If you slip – as most smokers do, given that it usually takes 3, 4, 5, or even more attempts to fully quit – just analyze the situation in which your slip took place (for example - a cigarette after dinner that you just had to have, a drink with friends after work on Friday night) – and adjust your routine for a couple of months to avoid the situations in which you are in danger of slipping.
Start thinking of yourself as a nonsmoker who is on the journey of a lifetime, one that certainly has its unexpected twists and turns, but with great rewards at the end.