By creating a quit-smoking plan, you can improve your chances of stopping for good.
If you’re like many smokers, you know you should quit. Or you may have tried quitting but started smoking again. And you know the health risks – cancer, breathing problems, heart attacks and stroke. Secondhand smoke causes asthma and breathing problems. E-cigarettes and vaping have health risks, too.
Creating a quit-smoking plan improves your chances of stopping for good. A plan helps you set expectations, line up the support you need, prepare for cravings, identify and practice coping skills and stay motivated.
- Find your reason. Do you want to protect your family from secondhand smoke, get healthier, lower your risk of disease, or save money? Choose a reason that is strong enough to outweigh the urge to light up.
- Prepare. Research shows that a combination of medical treatments and behavioral counseling improves the likelihood of successfully quitting. Ask your doctor about nicotine replacement therapy and medications that help reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
- Get support. Individual, group or telephone counseling can provide you with needed support and help you develop coping skills. The National Cancer Institute has a telephone quit line you can call anytime, day or night, at 877-44U-QUIT (877-448-7848).
- Online tools and apps. Online tools for creating and implementing a quit plan can help increase your success. Check out the National Cancer Institute’s chat, text messaging and mobile app.
- Lean on loved ones. Tell your friends and family that you’re trying to quit. They can encourage you, especially when you’re tempted to light up.
- Clean house. Toss out your ashtrays and lighters. Wash clothes that sell like smoke and clean your carpets, draperies and upholstery. Clean your car too.
- Avoid triggers. Make a list of your common triggers and habits for smoking. Do you smoke when you’re stressed, when you drink alcohol, during work breaks or after meals? Find a distraction, such as going for a walk, chewing gum, brushing your teeth or texting a friend.
- Give yourself a break. Find ways to relax without smoking. Listen to your favorite music, connect with friends, treat yourself to a massage or work on a hobby. Try to avoid stressful situations.
- Be active. Physical activity helps curb nicotine cravings and eases some withdrawal symptoms. Go for a run, walk your dog or pull weeds in the garden.
- Eat fruits and veggies. Don’t try to diet while you quit smoking. Eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. Also drink plenty of water. Have healthy snacks handy for those cravings, such as carrot or celery sticks and sugarless gum.
- Choose your reward.One of the perks of quitting smoking is saving money. Reward yourself by spending part of it on something fun.
- Don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged if you have a relapse. Think about what led to your relapse such as emotions or the setting you were in, then try again. Persevere and you’ll be successful.
- Time is on your side. You start to get immediate health benefits as soon as you quit. After only 20 minutes your heart rate goes back to normal. Within a day your blood’s carbon monoxide level falls back into place. In two or three weeks your odds of having a heart attack decrease.
“Smoking cessation: Create a quit-smoking plan.” mayoclinic.org, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 19 April 2017.
“Smoking Cessation Overview.” webmd.com, WebMD LLC, 2019.
“13 Best Quit-Smoking Tips Ever.” webmd.com, WebMD LLC, 22 December 2017.