Stop smoking! Not only is it bad for your health, but smoking prematurely ages the skin, causing wrinkles.
5 Ways to Quit Smoking for Good
You've made the decision to quit smoking — now you need a plan, resolve, and support. Here are five tips that will help you quit smoking for life.
By Dennis Thompson Jr.
Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
Quitting smoking is no small feat. To do it successfully, it helps to know what worked for others. These tips will help you see it through, from beginning to end.
- Start With a Stop-Smoking Plan
- Pick a day to quit smoking. Having a specific day in mind will help you stick to your goal. One day next month would be best — that will give you enough time to plan for it, but not enough time to talk yourself out of it. Don't quit smoking during holiday periods or at a time when you can expect a lot of additional stress. Post the date on your calendar, and let family and close co-workers and friends know.
- Visit your doctor. Discuss your decision to quit smoking, and ask if nicotine replacement therapy or other medications might help you quit.
- Cut back now. In the days leading up to your quit-smoking day, begin cutting back on the number of cigarettes you smoke each day. Try to smoke just half a cigarette when you do light up.
- Get smart. Read about what you'll be going through, especially nicotine withdrawal and the stresses of quitting. Start paying attention to triggers that make you want to smoke. You'll need to avoid or deal with these triggers once you've quit smoking.
- Plan substitutes. Stock up on cigarette substitutes like carrot sticks, hard candy, straws, toothpicks, and sugarless gum.
- Seek Help and Support to Stop Smoking
- Tell family and friends about your quit-smoking day, and ask for their support. Just having someone to talk with can help you during low moments.
- Ask those who still smoke not to smoke around you while you're trying to quit smoking.
- Find a support group or a smoking cessation program in your area. Many groups like the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society offer programs through which smokers can receive help and advice while they're trying to quit smoking.
- Make Your Quit-Smoking Day Special
- Don't smoke at all. Not one puff. This is it!
- Get rid of all of your smoking paraphernalia. Toss out your cigarettes, matches, lighters, and ashtrays.
- Plan to stay busy all day. Go for a walk or exercise. Go someplace where smoking isn't allowed, like the library or the movies. Eat foods you don't normally eat, and take routes you don't normally take. The idea is to avoid any association with your usual patterns of behavior.
- Begin using a nicotine replacement, if you've decided that will help you.
- Drink lots of water and juice. This will give you something to do and help flush the nicotine out of your body.
- Be Prepared to Deal With Smoking Withdrawal Symptoms As time passes, you’ll need to confront rationalizations. You will come up with reasons to smoke that wouldn't normally make any sense to you except at this point, when you're in the middle of a powerful craving. Thoughts like, "Just one to get me through this rough patch" and "I can't deal with this today, I'll quit tomorrow" will go through your mind. See these thoughts for what they are, and ignore them. Here’s how:
- Avoid situations that trigger the desire to smoke.
- Find ways to deal with cravings. Take slow, deep breaths until the craving passes. Drink some water slowly and hold it in your mouth. Munch on carrot sticks or suck some hard candy. Focus on a crossword puzzle. Play with a rubber band.
- If nothing else works, just tell yourself to hold off smoking for 10 minutes; often, that will get you past the craving.
- Maintain Your Resolve, But Be Ready for a Slip Whenever you feel your resolve weakening, remind yourself of all the benefits of not smoking:
- Count the money you're saving on cigarettes, consider how much better everything tastes and smells, and think about how your secondhand smoke is no longer affecting your family and friends.
- Avoid alcohol. Drinking makes it more likely you'll slide back into smoking.
- Eat right and exercise. A healthy diet and an exercise regimen can keep your mind off cravings and draw attention to how much better you feel now that you've quit smoking.
- Reward yourself. Buy something special with the money you've saved on cigarettes.
- Quickly regain control if you slip. Slipping is not the same as relapse — it's just a one-time mistake. You're still a non-smoker. Rededicate yourself, and use the slip as a learning opportunity by asking yourself what triggered your desire to smoke and what you can do to avoid it in the future.