“kick the habit” tips from the american lung association®
of Northern New England
“Kick the Habit” Tips from the American Lung Association®
Quitting smoking may be the hardest thing you ever have to do. But once you kick the habit, there will be a new you. Nine out of ten
smokers report that they want to quit. The single most important indicator of success is personal commitment: Really wanting to quit.
S ccess rates are highest by individuals quitting on their own.
A variety of “quit” aids are now available over the counter (i.e. patches, gum –variety of brands and strengths). If you choose to use any of these aids (along with the tips noted below) be sure to follow the directions carefully. Your healthcare provider can also prescribe Zyban, a mild anti-depressant that some people will find helps decrease their cigarette cravings.
Remember that successful methods are as different as the people who use them. What may seem silly to others may be just what you need to quit – so don’t be embarrassed to try something new.
When thinking about quitting…
➢ List all the reasons why you want to quit. Every night before going to bed, repeat one of the reasons 10 times. ➢ Decide positively that you want to quit. Try to avoid negative thoughts about how difficult it might be. ➢ Develop strong personal reasons (most people started smoking because of peer pressure), in addition to the obvious health
reasons and obligations to others. For example, think of all the time you waste taking cigarette breaks, rushing out to buy a pack, hunting for a “light”, then think of the money you spend.
➢ Set a target date for quitting – perhaps a special day like your birthday, your anniversary, a holiday (New Year’s Day,
Valentine’s Day, Mother’s or Father’s Day, April Fool’s Day). If you smoke anything heavily at work, quit during your vacation. Make the date sacred and don’t let anything change it.
➢ Begin to condition yourself physically; start a modest exercise regimen; drink more fluids; get plenty of rest and avoid
Involve someone else…
➢ Bet a friend you can quit on your target date. ➢ Put your cigarette money aside every day and forfeit it if you smoke. ➢ Ask your spouse or friend to quit with you. ➢ Ask a friend or family member for support and order the free booklet “Help a Friend Stop Smoking” from the American
➢ Switch to a brand you find distasteful. ➢ Change to a brand that’s low in tar and nicotine a couple of weeks before your target date. This will help lessen your physical
dependence on cigarettes. Note: Be careful not to increase the number of cigarettes you smoke.
Cut down the number of cigarettes you smoke…
➢ Smoke only half of each cigarette. ➢ Each day, postpone lighting your first cigarette by one hour. ➢ Decide you will smoke only during odd or even hours of the day. ➢ Decide beforehand how many cigarettes you will smoke during the day. For each additional smoke, give $1 to your least
favorite organization; e.g., the I.R.S.! Note: Be careful not to inhale more deeply the cigarettes you do smoke.
➢ Stop carrying cigarettes with you at home and at work. Make them difficult to get at. ➢ Make yourself aware of each cigarette by using the opposite hand, or put cigarettes in an unfamiliar location or different
pocket to break the automatic reach habit.
➢ Reach for a glass of juice or ice water instead of a cigarette for a “pick-me-up”. ➢ Collect all your cigarette butts in one large glass container as a visual reminder of exactly what smoking represents. ➢ Practice going without cigarettes. Don’t think of never smoking again. Think of quitting in terms of one or two hours or a day
at a time. Tell yourself you won’t smoke today – then don’t!
On the day you quit…
➢ Throw away all your cigarettes and matches. Discard lighters and ashtrays. Clean your car ashtrays and fill them with
➢ Visit the dentist and have your teeth cleaned to get rid of tobacco stains. Notice how nice they look and resolve to keep them
that way. Brush your teeth immediately following each meal.
➢ Make a list of things you’d like to buy yourself or someone else. Estimate the cost in terms of packs of cigarettes and put the
➢ Keep very busy on the big day! Go to the movies, take long walks, organize a closet, etc. Buy yourself a treat or do
Immediately after quitting…
➢ The first few days after you quit, spend as much free time as possible in places where smoking is prohibited: e.g., libraries
and museums, theatres, department stores, churches, etc.
➢ Drink large quantities of water and fruit juice. These liquids help rid your body of water soluble nicotine – the addictive drug
➢ Try to avoid alcohol, coffee and other beverages with which you associate cigarette smoking. ➢ Strike up a conversation with someone instead of a match for a cigarette. ➢ If you miss the sensation of having a cigarette in your hand play with something else – a pencil, a paper clip, a marble, an
➢ Chew gum, straws, toothpicks. ➢ Call the American Lung Association for day by day support and free list of the healthy changes that are occuring in your
body to repair the damages done by smoke.
➢ Don’t smoke when you first experience a craving. Instead, take a few deep breaths. Exhale each breath slowly. Or, wait
several minutes and during this time, change your activity, talk to someone, go for a brisk walk, or brush your teeth.
➢ Instead of smoking after meals, get up from the table and brush your teeth or go for a walk. ➢ Temporarily avoid situations you strongly associate with the pleasurable aspects of smoking, e.g., watching your favorite TV
program, sitting in your favorite chair, having a cocktail before dinner, etc.
➢ Develop a clean, fresh non-smoking environment around yourself – at work and at home. ➢ Until you are confident of your ability to stay off cigarettes, limit your socializing to healthful outdoor activities or situations
where smoking is prohibited. If you must be in a situation where you’ll be tempted to smoke (such as a cocktail or dinner party) try to associate with the non-smokers there.
Find new habits…
➢ Change your habits to make smoking difficult, impossible or unnecessary. Try activities such as swimming or going to a
public library. Wash your hands or the dishes when the desire for a cigarette is intense.
➢ Do things to maintain a clean mouth taste, such as brushing your teeth frequently and using a mouthwash. ➢ Do things that require you to use your hands. Try crossword puzzles, needlework, doodling, gardening or household chores.
Go bike riding, take the dog for a walk, give yourself a manicure, write letters, try new recipes.
➢ Get plenty of rest. ➢ Pay attention to your appearance. Look and feel sharp. ➢ Absorb yourself with activities that are the most meaningful, satisfying and important to you.
When you get the crazies…
➢ Keep oral substitutes handy – things like carrots, pickles, sunflower seeds, apples, celery, raisins, sugarless gum, etc. ➢ Take 10 deep breaths – exhale each breath slowly. ➢ Take a shower or bath if possible. ➢ Never allow yourself to think that “one won’t hurt” – it will! ➢ When you feel irritable or tense, close your eyes, count backward from ten to zero as you imagine yourself descending a
flight of stairs or imagine you are looking at the horizon as the sun sets in the west. Learn to relax quickly and deeply.
➢ Each month, on the anniversary of your quit date, plan a special celebration. ➢ Periodically, write down new reasons why you are glad you quit and post these reasons where you’ll be sure to see them. ➢ Make a calendar for the first 90 days. Cross off each day and indicate the money saved by not smoking. ➢ Set other intermediate target dates and do something special with the money you have saved.
About gaining weight…
➢ Most of those who quit don’t gain weight! About one-third do gain, one-third stay about the same and another third actually
lose weight, often the result of a combined exercise and/or diet program.
➢ Smoking is far more dangerous for you than adding on a few extra pounds. It would take the addition of more than 75 pounds
to offset the health benefits which a normal smoker gains by quitting.
You may need to quit smoking several times before you are successful for life. But remember – each time you quit it is practice for that final success!
For more information about quitting smoking, contact the American Lung Association.
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