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How to Quit Smoking

Go Cold Turkey

Studies indicate the best way to stop smoking is to quit cold turkey -- stop smoking on a given day and don't light up again.

To quit smoking, use this method:

  • Choose a target date to stop smoking and tell your friends and family members. Then, list all the reasons you want to quit and review the list daily.

  • On the day you quit, get rid of your cigarettes, matches, lighters and ashtrays. Then keep very busy: Go to a movie, take a long walk, go shopping or celebrate.

  • The first few days after quitting, spend as much time as possible in places where smoking is prohibited. Drink lots of liquids, but not alcohol or coffee if you associate them with smoking.

  • Keep your hands busy so you don't miss holding a cigarette. Play with pencils, paper clips or a small ball. Replace the feel of a cigarette in your mouth by chewing on toothpicks or straws.

  • Temporarily change your routine to avoid situations in which you smoked. For example, get up from the table after eating and brush your teeth instead of sitting and drinking a cup of coffee. Ride to work with a friend or take public transportation if you smoked while driving.


A successful long-term strategy is the key to quitting permanently. Here are some ideas to help you overcome the urge to start smoking again in the days, weeks and months after you quit:

  • Change your habits to make smoking difficult. People are creatures of habit. Analyze your smoking patterns by writing down how many cigarettes you smoke, the time, the location and how you feel afterward. Doing this will help you determine which situations lead you to smoke, so you can consider alternatives. For example: If you typically come home from work and smoke to relax, try taking a bath or a walk instead.

  • Whenever possible, avoid situations that put you in the company of other smokers. For example: Don't take breaks at work with smokers.

  • List things that trigger your urge to smoke, such as drinking coffee, watching television or talking on the phone. Then plan alternatives to smoking while doing these activities.

  • Find new ways to keep your hands busy. Take up needlework, do household chores or learn to draw.

  • Keep healthful oral substitutes handy. Try carrot sticks, pickles, hard candies, fruit or sugarless gum. Drink more water.

  • Maintain a clean taste in your mouth by brushing your teeth more frequently or using a mouthwash.

  • Use relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, to relieve stress.

  • Write down the reasons you're glad you quit smoking and refer to them often.

  • Concentrate on the positive results of quitting and the negative aspects of smoking.

  • Delay the urge to smoke. Talk to someone who can give you support, distract yourself with a task, leave the room you're in, drink some water or take a deep breath until the urge passes.

  • Record the amount of money you have saved by not smoking and reward yourself with a treat costing the same amount.

  • Get plenty of rest and exercise. Feeling better will reinforce your desire to remain smoke-free.

  • Celebrate on the monthly anniversary of your quit date.


If you try to quit smoking and fail, don't despair. Most smokers make four to six attempts before quitting for good. Approach quitting smoking as you do learning to do some other task -- if you learn from your mistakes, you can count on success the next time you try.

How to Control Your Weight When You Quit

You need another excuse if you haven't quit smoking because you're worried you may gain weight. The following weight-control strategies will help you maintain your weight when you stop smoking.

  • Decrease your fat intake by substituting lower-fat foods for high-fat ones. For example: Drink skim milk instead of whole milk; use mustard instead of mayonnaise; eat baked potatoes instead of French fries.

  • Increase the amount of low-fat and high-fiber foods you eat such as air-popped popcorn; whole-grain dry cereals; rice cakes; carrot and celery sticks; raisins, apples and grapes. These foods will fill you up without contributing to weight gain.

  • Begin exercising regularly. Taking a walk, riding a bicycle, dancing or doing any other aerobic activity you enjoy is an important component of a weight-control program. Try to exercise at least three times a week for 20 minutes. Schedule your workout on your appointment calendar or note it on your daily to-do list.

  • Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless mints or low-calorie hard candies when an oral craving hits. Suck on one piece of candy at a time and let it melt slowly.

  • Find things to do with your hands that are not food-related. For example: Take up a hobby such as woodworking, gardening or working crossword puzzles.

  • Don't panic if you gain three to five pounds initially. Tackle any weight you do gain six months to a year later, when the stress of quitting smoking has diminished.

You Can Stop Smoking For Good

Here's some good news if you're a smoker who would like to quit: quitting has gotten easier, thanks to the many smoking-cessation methods now available.

A review of the most effective smoking-cessation strategies follow.


Counseling programs teach people to recognize and anticipate when they'll want to smoke and provide them with alternative coping mechanisms. Such programs may be offered by a local hospital, a chapter of a nonprofit health organization such as the American Lung Association or the American Cancer Society or your health-insurance company.


Nicotine-replacement methods, such as the nicotine patch and nicotine gum, help control cravings. Each works slightly differently, so one may be more appropriate for you than the other.

The advantage of the nicotine patch is its simplicity -- you put it on once a day, then you're done. The advantage of nicotine gum is you have more control over your nicotine dosage because you can chew it whenever you feel the urge for a cigarette.

With either of these over-the-counter methods, it's important you read and follow the enclosed instructions carefully to ensure safety and effectiveness. Many nicotine-replacement products provide telephone counseling or counseling materials based on your answers to a questionnaire.

Try combining a nicotine-replacement method with counseling. Doing so can significantly increase your chance of quitting successfully.


The prescription medications Zyban and Chantix help some people quit smoking. Talk to your doctor about this medication to find out if it's right for you.


Acupuncture and hypnosis, done by a qualified practitioner, are methods that help some people quit smoking. Self-help smoking cessation tapes, relaxation and meditation audio tapes can also be useful in the quest to quit.


  • Smoking Reduction Strategy.

Some people are successful in weaning themselves gradually from cigarettes by using either special filters that gradually reduce the amount of nicotine inhaled, or by gradually reducing the number of cigarettes smoked. Strategies for tapering off smoking include smoking only when you really want a cigarette, trying to smoke less and less of each cigarette, postponing lighting up for longer periods of time when a craving hits, smoking a brand you dislike and buying only one pack at a time.

  • Substitution Strategy.

Because quitting cigarettes means giving up something you enjoy, one approach is to substitute something for them. You might want to find something to occupy your hands, satisfy the oral craving and take your mind off cigarettes through an activity such as exercise.

For More Information


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© 2011 Krames StayWell 2011. The information in this newsletter is intended to be used as a general guideline and should not replace the advice of your doctor. Always consult your doctor for personal decisions. Models used for illustrative purposes only. Material may not be reproduced without written permission from StayWell Custom Communications.