5 keys to quitting smoking


  1. GET READY. Pick a quit day and put it on your calendar. Remove all cigarettes, ashtrays, matches and other smoking items from your home, office, and car. Make a list of all the reasons why you want (and need) to quit. Keep the list handy so you can read it when you get the urge to smoke. If having whiter teeth is one of your reasons, you might even want to consider getting your teeth cleaned.
  1. GET HELP. People who use telephone services like 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) improve their chances of quitting. Several Internet sites also offer help, including:
    • www.nicotine-anonymous.org; 12-step program
    • www.legacyforhealth.org; how to get support from other people
    • www.lung.org; American Lung Association “Freedom From Smoking.”

Also, be sure to tell your family and friends and ask for encouragement.

  1. TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT MEDICATIONS THAT CAN HELP. Nicotine replacement products can greatly reduce your urge to smoke. Some nicotine patches, gum, lozenges and inhalation systems are available over the counter, and some require a prescription. Other non-nicotine medications for smokers who want to quit are also available.
  1. FORGIVE YOURSELF IF YOU SLIP UP. Most quitters try at least four times before they are finally successful. Relapses usually occur within the first three months after quitting.
  1. LEARN NEW WAYS TO DEAL WITH STRESS AND WITHDRAWAL. Most physical withdrawal symptoms go away within two weeks. When cravings are particularly strong, do anything that will change your focus of concentration.


A dozen ways to cope with nicotine withdrawal:

  • Do a deep-breathing technique.
  • Take a walk or do some stretching exercises.
  • Call a friend who is a former smoker.
  • Have a cup of tea.
  • Listen to some music.
  • Pet your cat or dog.
  • Chew on toothpicks or sugarless gum or mints.
  • Do something with your hands: work on a puzzle, play a computer game, pick up a worry stone.
  • Read the comics.
  • Write in a journal.
  • Think of the money you’re saving by not smoking.
  • Visit an online quit-smoking site.


Sources: American Lung Association; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


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