Smokers can and do quit smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, today there are more former smokers than current smokers.
1. If you’re reading this, you’ve already taken the first step, the single most important step that you can make to extend your life. Congratulate yourself on this first step.
2. Set a date to quit in the near future and stick to it.
3. Prepare for your Quit Day. Will you quit cold turkey, taper down before the day, start with nicotine replacement therapy?
4. Get rid of all ashtrays and cigarettes in your house, car and at work.
5. Only 3 percent of smokers succeed by willpower alone. Stopping smoking works best when you are part of a program.
6. Develop a personalized quit program. This may include help from a doctor, support groups, telephone counseling, behavioral therapy, individual counseling sessions, exercise and hypnosis.
7. Establish a self-reward program (stickers, small gifts or treats).
8. Use positive self-talk: “I know I can do it," “ This is hard but I’m strong," “ I can’t wait to feel better." Practice saying, “No thank you, I don’t smoke.”
9. Tell your family and friends about your plan to quit. Set up a support system of people you can call on.
10. Discuss use of stop-smoking medications with your health care provider. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and other medicines have been proven to double your chances of quitting.
11. According to the American Cancer Society, filters that reduce tar and nicotine do not work. In fact, studies have shown that smokers who use filters tend to smoke more.
12. Develop strategies to deal with the side effects of cessation.
- Nicotine is an appetite suppressant and can boost metabolism. Therefore, your weight may fluctuate.
- Exercise will help not only with the possibility of weight gain, but will also reduce your craving for cigarettes.
- Avoid triggers -- people, places and things that remind you of smoking. Example: If you always had a cigarette with your morning coffee, try sitting in a different room, using a different mug and reading a magazine (keeps your hands busy).
- Stay strong -- the beginning is the most difficult, but the cravings will pass.
- Avoid alcohol. Drinking lowers your chance of success.
13. Develop a plan to handle any slips. Don’t despair if you have a cigarette. It can take a few attempts to succeed.