Whatever kind of tobacco you use, there really is no better time than now to quit. There is no one right way to succeed, so whatever path you choose, by sticking with some basic guidelines you can do the best thing for your quality of life.
Have your own reason. The decision to quit must come from you. Loved ones may be urging you - and you should absolutely lean on them for support - but your best chance for success will come from your own commitment. Make yourself a motivation list of the reasons YOU want to quit. Put that list up on a bulletin board or as a background on your phone. Maybe those include feeling better on a daily basis, being able to do more activities with your loved ones, or not having to step outside when it’s 20 below zero!
Set a date. Picking a quit date is an important first step. Choose a date within the next month: if you plan too far out you may lose momentum and change your mind. Circle the date on your calendar and make sure you are fully prepared before it arrives.
Make a plan. There are many resources to support your decision and the process of quitting tobacco use. Some of these include signing up for online resources, using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), prescription medications, and online or in-person counseling. Information about these methods can be found at www.tobaccofreeco.org/quit-tobacco/im-ready-to-quit, and smokefree.gov/tips. Ask your doctor or dentist for suggestions and support. Let friends, coworkers, and family know your goal and ask them for encouragement during your process. Think about your past attempts to quit and figure out what worked and what didn’t work so well. Identify triggers and think about how you can avoid those. Since you won’t be able to avoid all situations, also plan ways to get through them.
Prepare for your quit day. Before the day arrives, clean your car and house, removing all remnants of your habit. Stock up on oral substitutes such as gum, sugar-free hard candy, cinnamon sticks, and toothpicks. Practice saying, “no, thank you, I don’t smoke.” Ask the people you know who still use tobacco to not use it around you or offer you any. Fill prescriptions for any medical interventions you plan to use; make a counseling appointment for as close as possible to your quit date.
Find Craving Busters. Breaking the addiction is achieved by breaking habits. Make a list of activities that you can do instead of picking up tobacco when you get a craving. Many people need to do more exercise anyway, so use the time you might have used tobacco to take a brisk walk. This has the added benefit of helping you reach the recommended 30-minutes of daily moderate-intensity activity. Changing your location can also change patterns. For example, if you always have a cigarette on your front porch, take your walk around the block. Let your smartphone work for you! Find an app or game that you can turn to when a craving hits.
The day has arrived! Daily patterns when you would normally have used tobacco will be your first challenge. Immediately put into action the activities or alternatives you’ve already decided to use when you would normally pick up tobacco. Use whatever nicotine replacement or medications you decided would help you best. Avoid situations and groups where smoking is commonplace. Change your routine! Get up early and eat breakfast in a different place – or if you don’t usually eat breakfast, start. Take a different route to work. Be prepared to feel the urge to smoke, and when you do, the first thing to do is delay. Take a deep breath – it may sound silly but breathing is an invaluable tool to help shift gears when nicotine withdrawal makes you edgy. Drink some water slowly. These simple steps might be what you need to move beyond the initial urge if you cannot take a walk or remove yourself from a trigger. As soon as possible, put into effect the activities you have in your plan – now is the time! You got this!
If you find yourself slipping, remind yourself of the reasons you want to quit. Keep your list handy. Track your steps and concentrate on how much easier it is to breath while exercising. Track the money you are saving by not buying tobacco and celebrate progress with a reward using that savings. Ultimately, remember that quitting tobacco can be difficult and if you slip up, don’t give up. Treat each day as a new opportunity to be tobacco free.