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Ultimate List of Tips & Tricks for Quitting Smoking



guide-quitting-smoking

You’ve thought long and hard about it. Made your decision. It’s time to stop smoking—and this time, you’re quitting for good.

This desire to quit smoking is essential.

Arguably, all your progress (or lack thereof) in quitting smoking stems from this underlying desire.

However, it’s also true that much helpful know-how has been developed to assist you in quitting smoking.  This knowledge either builds-up or reinforces your desire to quit.

In this guide, we discuss many of these tips, resources, and information to help you achieve your goal.

I wish for you to know this guide is a living document. If you feel we could improve this guide in any way, please do let us know and we shall make a swift decision whether or not to incorporate your input.

Table of Contents

“I need to quit.” Every smoker says it, but saying it and doing it can be two very different things.

The cycle of addiction is powerful, and it can pull even the most determined individual back into the habit of smoking.

Break free and stay on track this time with help from the resources in this comprehensive guide to quitting smoking for good.

Know Your Reasons for Quitting

If you’ve tried to quit before and failed, odds are, you either had a slip and fell back into the habit, or you didn’t have a firm grasp on the reasons you wanted to quit in the first place.

The latter can be the key to success; your reasons are a motivator that helps steel you through the cravings [1].

Before you set a quit date this time around, stop and consider what you have to gain from kicking the habit.

Need a little help?

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • What do I dislike about smoking?
  • What am I missing out on when I step outside for a smoke?
  • How does smoking negatively impact my life?
  • How does my smoking affect my family and loved ones?
  • How will my life improve once I quit?

Your answers to these questions are your personal reasons for wanting to quit, which tend to be the most powerful when combatting a difficult craving. Write them down.

Keep them with you until your quit day and read them regularly. When your quit day arrives, put a copy where you’d normally store your cigarettes.

Read them each time you feel like you can’t make it through the urge to smoke.

Want a few additional reasons to add to your list? Consider some of these additional benefits of becoming a non-smoker.

Quitting Smoking Means You’ll Look, Feel, and Live Healthier

Within just minutes of quitting, your body starts to recover from the effects of smoking. Your risk of heart attack, stroke, and cancer begin to decline.

The longer you go without a cigarette, the greater the effect–and while some of the damage of smoking can be reversed, you’re stopping any further harm to your heart, lungs, and other body structures by quitting.

You’ll also start to feel healthier in your day-to-day life. Your immune system will start to improve, making you less susceptible to colds, the flu, and pneumonia.

As your lungs start to heal, you’ll be able to breathe easier and you’ll cough less. Your blood pressure will go down, and your skin, nails, and teeth will look healthier.

Other Ways That Quitting Smoking Can Improve Your Life

The benefits of quitting smoking go beyond your health and appearance. You’ll also start to live a better lifestyle. Food will taste better, and your sense of smell will improve.

Your clothes, home, car, hair, and kids will no longer smell like cigarette smoke. You’ll have more money and time to spend with friends, family members, and loved ones.

Best of all, you’ll never have to stress or worry about when you can smoke your next cigarette, and you can be free to enjoy your life.

Quitting Smoking Improves the Lives of the People You Love

Smoking doesn’t just affect the smoker; it has a direct impact on the lives of the people they love the most. By quitting, you improve their situation as well.

They won’t have to worry as much about losing you to a serious health condition, and you’re protecting them from the negative effects of second-hand smoke.

They’ll also get to enjoy more of your time since you’re no longer tied to the next smoke. Lastly, you’ll be setting a good example for your children—and not just in terms of smoking.

Quitting is hard, and by being successful, you’re showing them that they can accomplish even the most difficult of tasks.

Make the Decision to Quit

Saying you want to quit smoking isn’t the same as making a decision to stop. The former is a fleeting thought that will likely pass once your next craving occurs.

The latter is about making a resolution—steeling yourself for the cravings, preparing for them, and sticking to your decision, no matter how difficult it gets.

Knowing why you want to quit is the first step toward actively quitting, but you also need to understand why you default to smoking in the first place.

You’ll also need a firm grasp of the challenges that you are likely to face along the way.

Dealing with Cravings and Nicotine Withdrawal

Nicotine is an addictive substance that changes the structure of your brain. The more you smoke, the more nicotine it takes to satisfy your cravings [2].

When you finally decide to quit, the lack of nicotine in your system causes symptoms of withdrawal.

An intense, whole-body feeling, withdrawal can cause you to feel anxious and irritable, sometimes to the point of unbearable. Nicotine withdrawal is not dangerous or painful, however.

You just have to ride out the sensation until it passes.

Over time, the extra nicotine receptors in your brain will die off and the frequency and intensity of your cravings will wane. They can still surface long after you’ve quit, however, as it can take a lot longer to combat the psychological aspects of the habit.

The reason for this is simple: as a smoker, you used cigarettes to help you cope with normal, everyday emotions like stress, boredom, and sadness.

In doing so, you’ve diminished your ability to handle feelings and other triggers in a healthy way. Learn some new coping skills and your chances of successfully quitting are greatly improved.

Coping with Cravings in the Moment

Find an oral substitute – Keep other things around to pop in your mouth when cravings hit. Try mints, carrot or celery sticks, gum, or sunflower seeds. Or suck on a drinking straw.

Keep your mind busy – Read a book or magazine, listen to some music you love, do a crossword or Sudoku puzzle, or play an online game.

Keep your hands busy – Squeeze balls, pencils, or paper clips are good substitutes to satisfy that need for tactile stimulation.

Brush your teeth – The just-brushed, clean feeling can help banish cigarette cravings.

Drink water – Slowly drink a large glass of water. Not only will it help the craving pass, but staying hydrated helps minimize the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.

Light something else – Instead of lighting a cigarette, light a candle or some incense.

Get active – Go for a walk, do some jumping jacks or pushups, try some yoga stretches, or run around the block.

Try to relax – Do something that calms you down, such as taking a warm bath, meditating, reading a book, or practicing deep breathing exercises.

Go somewhere smoking is not permitted – Step into a public building, store, mall, coffee shop, or movie theatre, for example.

Preparing for and Managing Triggers

Triggers are anything—people, places, smells, and even situations—that fuel your desire to smoke. They can surface at any time, even years after you’ve successfully quit smoking.

Be prepared for them and recognize that you are in a unique position to combat them. Remind yourself that you’re a non-smoker and that you don’t need cigarettes to cope.

Then take a moment to find the source or reason of your trigger.

Are you stressed? Try doing some deep breathing exercises, practice a few moments of mindful meditation, or go for a short walk.

Is your desire to smoke being triggered by an activity, such as eating or getting ready for bed? Developing a new ritual to take the place of smoking may help.

Some other ways to combat triggers include:

  • Avoiding the places and people that trigger your urge to smoke
  • Finding smoke-free places to spend time with family and friends
  • Keeping your hands busy with an activity (crafting, games, woodworking, etc.)
  • Stocking up gum, mints, or other hard candies and reaching for these instead of a cigarette when the cravings become unbearable

Little by little, your cravings will start to dissipate and you’ll start to settle into your new life as a non-smoker.

Then, when the occasional craving does arise, you’ll be more prepared to handle it.

Start Your Stop Smoking Plan with STAR
S = Set a quit date.

Choose a date within the next two weeks, so you have enough time to prepare without losing your motivation to quit. If you mainly smoke at work, quit on the weekend, so you have a few days to adjust to the change.

T = Tell family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit.

Let your friends and family in on your plan to quit smoking and tell them you need their support and encouragement to stop. Look for a quit buddy who wants to stop smoking as well. You can help each other get through the rough times.

A = Anticipate and plan for the challenges you’ll face while quitting.

Most people who begin smoking again do so within the first three months. You can help yourself make it through by preparing ahead for common challenges, such as nicotine withdrawal and cigarette cravings.

R = Remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from your home, car, and work.

Throw away all of your cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays, and matches. Wash your clothes and freshen up anything that smells like smoke. Shampoo your car, clean your drapes and carpet, and steam your furniture.

T = Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit.

Your doctor can prescribe medication to help with withdrawal symptoms. If you can’t see a doctor, you can get many products over the counter at your local pharmacy, including nicotine patches, lozenges, and gum.

Take Steps to Quit

As already discussed, quitting smoking requires more than just words. You must actively take steps toward breaking the cycle of addiction [3].

Start by setting an official quit date. Resolve to stop on that day, no matter what. Write it down on your calendar or store it in your phone and share the date with family, friends, and the people on your support team.

If quitting for good seems like an impossible feat, consider quitting for just one day. Then try three days.

Then five. In between those quit periods, give yourself the freedom to go back to smoking, but remind yourself that it’s only for a short time because you’re progressing to becoming a non-smoker.

Quitting in this way allows you to practice the skills and techniques without the same level of commitment while still pushing you toward your goal.

Develop a Quit Plan

You’ll need more than a quit date to kick your smoking habit. You need an entire quit plan.

The first thing to consider is how you’ll deal with the withdrawals and cravings. Explore your options and consider what may work best for you.

Many smokers have successfully used nicotine replacement therapy to help them quit.

Others have used prescription medications to help them curb anxiety, depression, and other difficult emotions that can arise during the withdrawal period.

Another way to deal with the cravings and withdrawal is to find new ways of coping. Remember that smoking has become a crutch—one that you’ve relied on for months, perhaps even years.

Getting rid of it for good means retraining your brain to deal with those difficult situations that would normally fuel the urge to light up.

Mindful meditation, exercise, deep breathing, yoga, and even just sitting down and talking with a friend are just a few ways that you can move toward dealing with stress and anxiety in a healthy way [4].

You can even use cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to develop new coping skills. Studies suggest that it can be an effective tool in your smoking cessation plan [5].

Don’t wait until your quit date to start practising your new coping methods, however, as doing things in this way could jeopardize your success. Instead, actively use your new methods prior to your quit date.

Employ them right before you light up. It’ll make using them seem more natural once your official quit date arrives.

Knowing when and why you’re at the greatest risk for a slip-up can also help you stay on track.

Withdrawal periods are when you’re most likely to fall back into old habits, but besides that, be on the lookout for high levels of stress and exposure to places, people, and situations that would normally cause you to light up.

Avoid all of these triggering situations whenever possible.

Build Your Support System

It’s also recommended that you take the time to develop have a support system, prior to quitting.

The people in it can help to hold you accountable whenever you think about smoking, and they offer a distraction when the urge to smoke seems unbearable.

Not sure who to have on your support team?

Friends, family members, physical and online support groups, and even your own doctor are great people to have in your corner when trying to quit smoking.

More information on building and nurturing your support team will be covered later in this guide.

Prepare for Slips

Withdrawals and triggers aren’t the only things you need to prepare for when planning to quit smoking. You also need to prepare for the possibility of a slip.

Resolve to avoid them at any cost and remind yourself that even just one cigarette can restart the cycle of addiction. Beyond that, reframing the way you view slips can improve your chances of successfully quitting for good.

Consider them a normal but unfortunate part of quitting, rather than a failure, and then resolve to go right back to your plans for kicking the habit once the slip has occurred.

Rethink the Act of Quitting

Smokers often view the act of quitting in a negative light, like they’re giving something up, yet this is not the case [6]. Quitting smoking means you’re gaining more freedom to enjoy the people, activities, and things you love most.

You’ll have more money to spend on yourself and your family. You’ll also gain better health and decrease your risk of developing life-threatening health conditions associated with the act of smoking.

In short, you’re losing nothing but gaining everything when you decide to quit.

Focus on this, ingrain it in your brain, and remind yourself of it when the cravings or withdrawals come.

You can even use this reframed thinking to help you combat the cravings themselves; instead of thinking about how you “can’t smoke,” think about how good the air smells without the lingering scent of smoke.

You’ll be amazed at just how much a different frame of mind can improve your chances of successfully kicking your smoking habit for good.

Make Smoking an Inconvenience

As you prepare to quit, vow to make smoking more of an inconvenience than it already is. Stop smoking in your home and in your car. If you already smoke outside, change your designated smoking area so that you have to travel further to get to it.

Each time you do smoke, think of what you might be missing out on, such as a moment with your child or even part of your favourite television show. It can serve as a simple reminder of what you’re gaining by quitting.

Get Ready for Your Quit Date

With strategies for managing your cravings and withdrawals, a new frame of mind, and techniques for coping with stress and other triggers, all that’s really left to do is get ready for your official quit date.

Start to rid yourself of any extra paraphernalia, such as matches, spare lighters, and extra ashtrays. Resist the temptation to hide an extra pack somewhere. Remember that you are going to be a non-smoker, so you won’t need them anymore.

You’ll also want to stock up on any supplies that you’ll need while waiting for your quit day to arrive. Fill prescriptions, obtain nicotine replacement therapy, or purchase low-calorie snacks and candies to help you with the cravings.

When your official quit day finally arrives, smoke your last cigarette and get rid of any remaining cigarettes, ashtrays, and other smoking paraphernalia.

You no longer need them, and it’s best to not have them around while you’re working through the symptoms of withdrawal.

Learn About Nicotine Replacement Therapy

There are many methods for dealing with the symptoms of withdrawal. Nicotine replacement therapy is among one of the most common.

This form of combatting the cravings allows you to intake small, controlled doses of nicotine without actively smoking [7].

Health experts warn that nicotine replacement therapy options are still hazardous to your health because they still contain nicotine.

That means they still increase your risk of developing heart-related conditions associated with nicotine use, such as heart attack and stroke.

However, medical experts agree that most nicotine replacement therapy products are still safer than smoking because you’re no longer inhaling the other harmful substances found in cigarettes.

E-cigarettes: The Facts

Since it eliminates the tar and toxic gases found in cigarette smoke, smoking e-cigarettes (vaping) is almost certainly less dangerous than smoking conventional cigarettes.

While different studies have conflicting results, e-cigarettes may also be helpful in kicking the habit.

However, there are some downsides to vaping:

  • The liquid used in e-cigarettes contains nicotine which has many negative health effects, including high blood pressure and diabetes
  • The nicotine from e-liquid is especially dangerous to the developing brains of children and teens
  • E-liquids may contain flavouring agents that can cause chronic lung disease
  • Some vaporizers can generate significant amounts of toxins such as formaldehyde

Choosing the Right Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Nicotine replacement therapy is offered in many different forms, including patches, gums, lozenges, inhalers, and nasal sprays. Each has its own set of benefits and disadvantages.

Take a closer look to determine which option may be right for you:

  • Nicotine Patches: Available over the counter, nicotine patches are applied to the skin. Throughout the day, the patch will release a small but steady dose of nicotine to help you combat the symptoms of withdrawal
  • Nicotine gum: If you’d prefer to handle your withdrawal symptoms one craving at a time, nicotine gum may be preferable to patches. Also available for you to purchase at your local drug store or pharmacy, you simply bite into the gum to release the nicotine. Chew just until you start to experience a tingling sensation and then place the gum between your cheek and gums
  • Nicotine lozenges: Nicotine lozenges offer the same quick-burst release of nicotine as the gum. The major difference is that they are hard like candy. When you have a craving, simply pop one in your mouth and allow it to slowly dissolve. As it does, the nicotine will be slowly released
  • Nicotine inhalers: Nicotine inhalers have become quite popular over the past few years. Available only with a prescription from your doctor, they come in easy-to-use cartridges. Simply attach the mouthpiece and inhale to get a dose of nicotine whenever you have a craving
  • Nicotine nasal sprays: Like the nicotine inhaler, nasal sprays are only available with a prescription from your physician. They are small pump bottles with liquid nicotine inside. Use by placing the nozzle into your nose and then pump to spray

It is important to remember that nicotine replacement therapy can only help you in managing withdrawal.

You will still likely experience a psychological urge to smoke. Increase your chances of success by incorporating additional smoking cessation strategies.

Below, we offer a useful table listing some popular nicotine replacement therapies. This table includes where these therapies are available and common side-effects:

Medicine
 Over-the-counter (OTC) or Prescription
 Common Side Effect
 Nicotine gum
 OTC
  • Irritation in the mouth
  • Sore jaw
  • Hiccups
  • Stomach discomfort
Nicotine inhaler
 Prescription
  • Irritation in the mouth & throat
  • Mild coughing
  • Stomach discomfort
 Nicotine lozenge
 OTC
  • Irritation in the mouth & throat
  • Sore throat
  • Stomach discomfort
 Nicotine nasal spray
 Prescription
  • Irritation in the nasal passage and throat
  • Runny nose
 Nicotine patch
 OTC & Prescription
  • Rath where the patch is placed
  • Trouble sleeping (take off patch when you go to bed to avoid sleep problems)
 Bupropion SR (sustained-release pill)
 Prescription
  • Dry mouth
  • Trouble sleeping (take it early in the morning or early afternoon to avoid sleeping problems
  • If you have a history of seizures or eating disorders, talk with your doctor before taking this drug
 Varenicline (pill)
 Prescription
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nausea
  • If you have a history of psychiatric problems, talk with your doctor before taking this drug

Examining Other Quit Methods

Nicotine therapy isn’t your only option for quitting. In fact, there are many alternatives.

Some natural methods may help, but it is important that you understand the limitations of such treatments before including them in your quit plan.

A few examples include:

  • Hypnosis: While there is little evidence to suggest that hypnosis is effective at helping smokers kick the habit, many report successes with this method. Your hypnotherapist will place you into a state of deep sleep and then use suggestive reasoning to guide you through a set of thoughts and feelings. The goal here is to decrease your desire to smoke and increase your willpower to quit. You’ll need an appointment before your quit date to ensure this option will be suitable for your situation. It is also recommended that you do your research and find a board-certified hypnotherapist, rather than simply settling for someone that claims they can help
  • Acupuncture: An ancient Eastern form of alternative medicine, acupuncture uses a combination of needles and electrical impulses to stimulate specific pressure points in the body. Though practitioners have long claimed that it is effective at helping smokers kick their habit, there is little scientific evidence to back them. Still, there are smokers who have reported success with this method. Just be sure to choose a licensed practitioner if you choose it as a part of your smoking cessation plan
  • Laser Therapy: Laser therapy for smoking cessation uses low-level lasers to target specific acupuncture points related to addiction, stress, and metabolism [8]. The claim is that the lasers stimulate the nerve endings and promote a flood of endorphins to combat cravings. Unfortunately, it is still a fairly new treatment, so there is little scientific evidence to back its efficacy. However, one study from the Journal of Chinese Medicine did find that smokers who received four treatments over the course of two weeks were more likely to stop smoking than those who only had three treatments. In turn, those who had just two treatments were less likely to be successful at quitting than those who received placebo treatments
  • Vitamins and Herbal Supplements: A myriad of vitamins and herbal supplements are used by smokers wanting to quit, including black and white pepper, St. John’s Wort, cannabinol (CBD), lobelia, SAMe, and L-Tryptohphan [11]. Unfortunately, scientific evidence on their efficacy is still severely lacking. It’s also worth noting that supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so there is no way of knowing if the supplement you choose is made from quality ingredients. If you want to use herbal supplements or vitamins to help you stop smoking, talk to your doctor and be sure to have another method in your back pocket, just in case
  • Electronic Cigarettes: Since first developed, electronic cigarettes have become an extremely popular method for quitting smoking. Unfortunately, there is no evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes and vapes are effective at helping smokers kick the habit. If anything, they fool the individual into continuing the cycle of addiction. There are also concerns about the safety of vaping products [12]. They are not monitored by the FDA, and there have been reports that these products have caused serious and fatal lung conditions in some users. If you prefer to inhale your nicotine, consider talking to your doctor about using a nicotine inhaler instead. Alternatively, consider using a different smoking cessation technique to help you curb the symptoms of withdrawal

Learn About Prescription Medications for Quitting Smoking

Nicotine replacement therapy and alternative medicine aren’t your only options for managing withdrawals.

Prescription medications—some of which can be used in conjunction with nicotine replacement therapy—may be able to aid you in your smoking cessation goals.

This section examines some of the most commonly prescribed medications for smoking cessation, as well as their benefits and potential side effects.

But first, let’s take a look at who might benefit from using prescription medication as a part of their quit plan.

Deciding if Prescription Medications Are Right for You

Prescription medications can be an effective method for dealing with nicotine withdrawal, but since they have side effects, doctors tend to reserve prescriptions for those with severe nicotine dependence.

Signs and symptoms of extreme dependence include [13]:

  • Smoking more than one pack per day
  • Smoking even when you’re sick
  • Smoking to ease the symptoms of withdrawal
  • Smoking within five minutes of waking up
  • Waking up in the middle of the night to smoke

The more signs that apply to you, the more severe your dependence. Talk to your healthcare provider about your options if you believe that prescription medications may be right for you.

It is also important to know that you must typically start your medication prior to your quit day, so be sure to schedule your appointment and fill your prescription early.

E-cigarettes: The Facts

Since it eliminates the tar and toxic gases found in cigarette smoke, smoking e-cigarettes (vaping) is almost certainly less dangerous than smoking conventional cigarettes.

While different studies have conflicting results, e-cigarettes may also be helpful in kicking the habit.

However, there are some downsides to vaping:

  • The liquid used in e-cigarettes contains nicotine which has many negative health effects, including high blood pressure and diabetes
  • The nicotine from e-liquid is especially dangerous to the developing brains of children and teens
  • E-liquids may contain flavouring agents that can cause chronic lung disease
  • Some vaporizers can generate significant amounts of toxins such as formaldehyde

Choosing the Right Prescription Medication for Your Quit Plan

With so many medication options available, it can be difficult to decide which one to use.

Ultimately, personal preference and your doctor’s medical opinion will determine which prescription you receive, but it is still good to be informed and know which medication seems most appropriate for your needs and situation.

1. Varenicline (Chantix)

Varenicline, otherwise known as Chantix, was specifically developed to help smokers kick their habit. It works by interfering with the nicotine receptors in your brain, which lessens the pleasure of smoking and helps you combat the symptoms of withdrawal.

You’ll want to start taking it a week to a month before your official quit date, usually after meals and with a full glass of water.

Dosing will gradually increase around eight days after you start taking it, but if you struggle with the higher dose, your doctor may advise you to stick to the lower dosage.

Prescriptions are written for an initial 12-week period. If you successfully quit while taking Chantix, your doctor may provide you with an additional 12-week prescription to help you stay smoke-free.

It is important to have an honest discussion with your doctor about your health before taking Chantix, as it is not approved for people with certain medical conditions, including pregnancy.

Also, be aware of the potential side effects, particularly the potential risk of depression in those with a history of mental illness, and consider whether you can manage them while trying to quit.

Other side effects of taking Chantix include:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Sleep disturbances (sleepwalking, difficulty falling asleep, unusual dreams, etc.)
  • Headaches
  • Gas
  • Seizures
  • Constipation
  • Heart or blood vessel problems
  • Changes in mood or behaviour (agitation, hostility, etc.)
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts and/or feelings
  • Panic and/or anxiety
  • Hallucinations

Some side effects may be severe. Talk to your doctor if these symptoms become unbearable, and seek immediate help if you start to experience severe depression, hallucinations, or suicidal thoughts and feelings.

There are also helplines available to those who become severely depressed or are thinking about or considering suicide. Contact them if the feeling becomes overwhelming and you cannot get to your doctor.

2. Bupropion (Zyban/Wellbutrin/Aplezin)

Known by several different brand names, bupropion is an extended-release antidepressant that can help smokers kick their habit. It can help you manage the symptoms of withdrawal and works to reduce your cravings.

You’ll start the medication about one to two weeks before your quit date, taking one to two pills per day.

If you’re smoke-free around the seven to twelve-week mark, your doctor may advise that you continue taking the medication to increase your chances of long-term success.

There are some serious risks for those taking bupropion, and it is not recommended for anyone that has a history of seizures, cirrhosis of the liver, alcohol abuse, bipolar depression, serious head injuries, or eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia.

Those who are pregnant should not take bupropion, and it is not recommended for those who take sedatives or MAOI antidepressants.

Bupropion can cause serious drug interactions for those who take certain vitamins, supplements, herbal remedies, and over-the-counter medications.  Be sure to advise your doctor of all the medicines and alternative remedies you plan to use in your quit plan.

Other reported side effects associated with Bupropion include:

  • Seizures
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Stuffy nose
  • Difficulty sleeping and intense nightmares
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Mood changes (depression, anxiety, hostility, aggression, etc)

Make sure you contact your doctor or a hotline if you start to experience severe depression or suicidal thoughts and feelings, as this could indicate that bupropion may not be right for you.

3.  Other Prescriptions to Help You Stop Smoking

If you cannot take any of the drugs approved for smoking cessation, either because of a health condition or because they did not work for you previously, there are some off-label drugs that may be able to help you quit.

Just keep in mind that each one has its own set of benefits and potential side effects, and you should discuss them with your doctor before taking them.

Nortriptyline is an older antidepressant. Studies have shown it to be more successful than quitting without a prescription, but it is not right for everyone. Side effects of the drug may include constipation, weight changes, low blood pressure when standing, blurred vision, rapid heartbeat, and difficulty urinating.

It cannot be taken with certain medications, and it may impair your ability to safely operate a vehicle. Be certain to speak with your doctor about how to taper off the medication once you have successfully achieved your goal to quit smoking.

Clonidine is generally used to treat high blood pressure, but it has been shown to improve a smoker’s chances of quitting.

Common side effects include dizziness, dry mouth, weakness, constipation, drowsiness, and unusual tiredness. Severe and potentially dangerous side effects include very high or low blood pressure, slow heart rate, and allergic reactions.

Clonidine may impair your ability to safely operate a vehicle, and it is not recommended for those who take certain medications. Inform your doctor of all health conditions and medications that you take.

Cytisine and naltrexone are other drugs that may be prescribed to help you quit smoking, but their efficacy is unknown, as there is not enough scientific evidence to support their use as a smoking cessation drug.

Getting Your Quit Journal Nailed

A quit journal assists you in tracking your progress when you are quitting smoking.  The below journal allows you to track your emotions throughout the day.

Doing so gives you a record of how you are feeling each day as you progress along the way to a smoking-free life.  Many of these emotions act as ‘triggers’.

Mapping out these triggers in written form helps you gain clarity on the thoughts and feelings that are powering cravings.   Feel free to print out copies of the below journal or adapt it to your precise needs.

Carry the journal with you so you can make entries on the fly.  The journal includes columns for you to make a note of when you experienced a craving, where you were at this time and what you were thinking and feeling.

You are asked to ‘rate’ on a scale of 1-3 how much you wanted a cigarette when a particular craving arrived.

Days Since I Quit
Craving Level
Time of Day
What I Was Doing…
Who I Was With…
My Mood…
 Example
 3
 10:45
 At Work
 Alone
Stressed
 1
 2
 3
 4
 5 —
 20

0 = None 1 = Just a little 2 = Some 3 = A lot

Build Support to Stay Smoke-Free

Quitting smoking for good requires you to think long-term. Cravings and withdrawals may dissipate over time, but triggers will still emerge—sometimes even years after you’ve successfully kicked the habit.

Keep yourself from falling back into the cycle of addiction by ensuring you have a strong support system in place.

Check out these options for support, and learn how you can encourage a long and healthy relationship with the individual people on your quit smoking support team [14].

1.  Smoking Cessation Support Groups and Resources

There are numerous support options available to those who want to stop smoking from good. Most are just a click or a phone call away. Look for online support groups, including those on social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

You may also want to consider enrolling in a support program that is designed to help you quit. Most states offer them for free. You might even be assigned a coach that can help you with building a quit plan and staying on track.

Why have a support group if you already have family and friends?

Options like these allow you to seek objective help when you’re having a difficult craving without adding to the stress in your personal life.

They can also help you develop new skills and tools to stay quit. Rely on them heavily, especially in the first few weeks and months after your quit date.

2.  Personal Support Systems

You are not alone! Friends, family members, and even co-workers care about you and want to see you successfully achieve your quit goal. Inform them of your quit date, and be specific about what you need from them.

For example, you may not need someone to inform you of all the hazards of smoking, but you may need some help distracting yourself from craving.

Someone you know may be more than happy to plan a night out or a visit to aid you in your quest to quit. Alternatively, if you think you might need someone to talk you through your reasons for quitting, tell them as such.

Another option is to focus on the strengths of people in your support team and assigning them specific tasks, based on those skills.

An example might be to ask a friend who’s good at being objective to talk you through your most intense cravings, as they’re less likely to get upset when you tell them you’re thinking about smoking again.

3.  Building Your Support Team

When building your support team, focus only on those that actually can help.

Some relationships cannot handle the strain of you quitting, and you may need to distance yourself for a while—at least until you feel like you can handle interactions without wanting to smoke.

Other relationships may need to be phased out of your life. As painful as it might be to let them go, know that such relationships may only bring you right back to the habit.

In contrast, take the time to invest in the relationships that are positive and healthy—these are the ones that are most likely to benefit you while you work to quit. Call them before your quit date.

Go to a movie or dinner. The more you interact and care for these relationships, the more comfortable you’ll feel when it comes time to ask for help.

Reduce Stress Levels Whenever Possible

Stress reduction is another key ingredient to quitting for good—and it’s a way that you can support yourself. Eliminate unnecessary stressors in your life, particularly those that cause an urge to light up.

Talk to family and friends about unique stressors that may hinder your progress so that they, too, can work to avoid them during those first few weeks and months.

Thank Your Support System and Offer Support in Kind

Your support circle wants you to be successful, but even the strongest of people want to know that their contributions are valued.

Otherwise, they may start to feel as though you’re taking advantage of them, or that you don’t care about their needs.

Take a moment to thank them when they offer help. Even more important, be willing to offer support whenever they’re in need.

By doing this, you’ll not only foster a healthier relationship, but you’ll also increase the chances that your support system will continue to be there for you in other difficult times.

Manage Your Quit Day

You’ve done everything necessary to prepare for it, and now it’s here: your official quit date.

No need to get anxious because you’ve already got it covered. Still, it can help to go over a few important options for helping you manage this important day [15].

1. Stick to Your Quit Plan

Following your quit plan is important for your long-term success. Refer to it often, and even consider re-evaluating it each week as a way to recommit to your goals.

Periodically examining your quit plan can also allow you to make changes, based on the knowledge that you’ve gained since quitting.

For example, you may have initially planned to go for a walk when cravings come, but it may not have been as effective as you’d hoped.

Try another strategy like crafting, playing a game, or calling a friend and see if it works better then adjust your quit plan accordingly

2. Keep Yourself Busy

Boredom and free time can be your worst enemy during the withdrawal period, making the cravings even more intense because you can’t help but focus on them. Stay busy and distract yourself to keep your mind off of smoking.

Below, we list some tips to help you keep busy:

  • Going for a walk
  • Chewing gum or hard candies
  • Deep breathing exercise
  • Going to see a movie
  • Having dinner at your favourite smokefree restaurant
  • Doing a short but intense workout
  • Yoga or meditation
  • Spending some quality time with non-smoking family or friends
  • Writing or drawing
  • Crafting
  • Playing a game
  • Working on a puzzle
  • Reading a book

Avoid focusing on the idea of quitting forever. Instead, simply address your cravings one at a time. Quit just for today.

Then, tomorrow, get up and do it again. Before you know it, the days will turn into weeks and the cravings will be far more manageable.

Avoid Exposure to Triggers

Triggers are anything that makes you want to smoke. Once your cravings dissipate, you’ll be more prepared to handle them, but on your quit day, you’ll want to avoid them as much as possible.

Some ideas for helping you do this include:

  • Throwing away all cigarettes and smoking paraphernalia
  • Changing your route to avoid the places and things that you might associate with smoking
  • Avoiding caffeine, which can cause you to feel on edge
  • Spending time with non-smokers instead of your smoking family members and friends
  • Going places where smoking isn’t permitted
  • Eating healthy and getting plenty of rest before your quit day

If you think of other triggers and ways to avoid them, be sure to add them to your list.

1. Focus on Staying Positive

Like any addiction, smoking can create a negative thought pattern inside your head. Breaking out of it can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Start by focusing on just today.

Enjoy it. Find the positive in it. Consider what you’re grateful for in the moment, and in your life. It can also help to reward yourself for making it through the day.

2. Lean on More Than Willpower

Willpower isn’t necessarily the thing that divides those who are successful from those who are unsuccessful in quitting. In fact, many people who achieve their quit goals will say they have little to no willpower at all.

They just had a strong support system and a comprehensive quit plan to refer to when things got difficult. So, if you feel weak asking for help, take a moment to remind yourself that addiction is a difficult thing to overcome.

The people in your life and on your support team aren’t just happy to help, they want to see you succeed as well!

Don’t assume they know you need help based on your statements or actions. Instead, choose to communicate and explain how they can help you in that moment.

Are you feeling antsy and pent up? Consider asking someone to go with you on a walk. One step at a time, they can help you add up the minutes of being a successful non-smoker.

Prepare for Cravings

Even though you developed a plan for dealing with the cravings, you may have underestimated their intensity. Prepare for it. Keep it in your mind how you will deal with them.

Then, for a little extra help, consider these tips [16].

1. Get Some Support

The importance of your support team cannot be overstated here. When those cravings become overwhelming, they can talk you through them. So, rather than lighting up, take a moment to send a friend a text.

Consider contacting your quit coach. You can even hop online and open up a chat with someone in your online support group. If you’ve downloaded a smartphone app, open it and navigate to whatever built-in support system is available.

2. Take a Deep Breath

The act of smoking mimics the process of deep breathing. You inhale, slowly, hold, and then release. Try doing it during a craving. Repeat for ten to fifteen minutes.

More likely than not, you’ll feel much calmer and the craving will have passed.

3. Head to a Smoke-Free Zone

If your craving is being spurred by the smokers around you, remove yourself from the situation. Go somewhere that smoking isn’t allowed, such as a restaurant, movie theatre, or your favourite store.

Spend some time there and do the same things that you would have enjoyed before the craving arrived. Remember that you’re a non-smoker now, and smokers don’t have cravings.

4. Remind Yourself of Your Reasons for Quitting

Remember that list you wrote—the one that outlines your reasons for wanting to quit? Take it out. Read it (several times, if necessary). Focus and meditate on it.

You might be feeling the urge to smoke right now, but remember that you’re not losing anything by quitting. Instead, you’re gaining those things that you want to see, feel, and experience in your smoke-free life.

5. Get Busy

Most cravings subside within just 15 minutes. In that time, you could go for a walk. Clean your pantry. Have a pillow fight with your kids. The possibilities really are endless here.

So, get out, distract yourself, and do something else for a while. Before you know it, the craving will be gone.

6. Use Your Nicotine Replacement Therapy Medication (or Try It)

If you had planned to use nicotine replacement therapy in your quit plan, now is the time to incorporate it.

If you hadn’t intended on using it but are taken aback by just how very whelming your cravings are, it may be time to consider picking something up.

At the very least, it’s worth a try—especially if it can help you stay smoke-free.

7. Do a Good Deed

Nothing kicks a nicotine craving in the teeth quite like doing a good deed for someone else.

Not only does it distract you from your current feeling, but it also helps you to feel good about yourself in the process.

Consider helping out a family member or friend with a task that they’ve been putting off because they haven’t had the time to take care of it themselves.

Take a moment to do some yard work for your elderly neighbour. Do something—anything—that distracts you and makes you feel good about you.

8. Stay Positive (Even if You Slip)

It might take you a few tries. It may even mean having a few slips along the way. Yet, if you find a way to stay positive through it all by recommitting to your goals each time things don’t go as planned, you will be successful.

Perhaps not this time around, but making yourself feel worse will only sabotage your future attempts at quitting.

So, let it go, remind yourself that you’re determined to quit, and get right back on track.

One day, one moment, one craving at a time, you will achieve your goals of being a non-smoker.

Just remember to be patient and positive with yourself, even when things are hard, follow your quit plan, and lean heavily on your support team.

Manage Cravings and Nicotine Withdrawal

Smoking changes your brain’s chemistry by increasing the number of nicotine receptors [17]. Since nicotine is an addictive, habit-forming drug, those receptors expect to receive their regular, daily dose.

When they don’t get it, withdrawal symptoms occur.

Smoking withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Feeling hungrier than usual
  • Sleep disturbances
  • An intense desire to snack throughout the day
  • Weight gain
  • Feeling jumpy or restless

Withdrawal symptoms tend to vary from one smoker to the next, but they are almost always intense. Having an effective plan for managing those initial symptoms is paramount to your success in quitting smoking for good.

Nicotine replacement therapy can be used to manage your symptoms, but because these products still pose a health risk, they should only be used as a temporary solution.

You should also know that it is also possible and perfectly safe to completely discontinue the use of all nicotine products, as nicotine withdrawal is not dangerous—just uncomfortable.

Some smokers find prescription medications effective at helping them work through the withdrawal period. Before choosing this option, be aware that there are side effects involved.

However, in most cases, the benefits of quitting smoking outweigh the risks of the medication. Talk to your doctor to determine if a prescription medication may be appropriate for your needs.

Once you quit using all forms of nicotine, the drug will leave your system—typically within just 72 hours. Unfortunately, it does take one to three months for the additional nicotine receptors in your brain to die off.

Until that happens, your withdrawal symptoms are likely to persist, but they will dissipate over time.

Withdrawals aren’t the only foe for those trying to quit smoking. Psychological symptoms known as cravings are likely to continue. Smokers create habits and rituals around their addiction.

Over time, they create neural pathway changes in the brain and combatting it can be difficult, even after the physical symptoms of withdrawal have disappeared [18].

Dealing with cravings will be more difficult on certain days or situations, but having a plan to combat them can significantly increase your chances of staying smoke-free.

Be mindful of triggers, such as daily routines, smells, people, and stress-inducing situations that arise, as these can be the most threatening to your smoking cessation goals.

Below, we list some effective ways to overcome triggers and associated cravings to return to smoking:

  • Distract your self
  • Use positive self-talk
  • Meditation to help you through the intense waves
  • Remind yourself that you are a non-smoker now and that you and your family are healthier for not smoking
  • Go for a short walk
  • Call a designated support person and talk to them about your desire to smoke

The feeling associated with cravings will pass eventually, and over time, your cravings will dissipate and become easier to manage.

Saving Money by Quitting Spending

Below, we assume the cost of 20 cigarettes costs £10.80.

We then calculated how much money you can expect to save over one week, one month, one year, five years and ten years.

These calculations were completed for those of you who smoke between 1-3 packs of 20 cigarettes per day.

The savings are staggering. If you smoke more than 3 packs per day, you can save over £100,000 over a decade!

Money I will save in
 1 pack a day
 2 packs a day
3 packs a day
1 Day
£10.80
£21.60
£32.40
1 Week
£75.60
£151.20
£226.80
1 Month
£324
£648
£972
1 Year
£3,931.20
£7,862.4
£11,793.60
5 Years
£19,656
£39,312
£58,968
10 Years
£39,312
£78,624
£117,936

Prevent Slip-Ups

Even when you have a solid plan in place, slips can occur. In fact, most smokers have at least one or two cigarettes when they are actively trying to quit [19].

Do not admonish yourself or allow it to be the reason you start smoking again.

Instead, use a healthy dose of positive self-talk and personal motivation to get your smoking cessation goals back on track.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Take a moment to consider what caused the slip. Were you faced with an overwhelming trigger? If so, consider how you can better manage that trigger the next time you encounter it
  • Even just a day without cigarettes can improve your health, so be proud of the time that you went without smoking and remember that quitting for good is hard!
  • If you are not already using nicotine replacement therapy, consider giving it a try. Many smokers find it to be helpful in curbing their withdrawal and cravings while trying to quit
  • Consider speaking with your doctor about prescription medications. They can help with withdrawal and craving symptoms. Though not appropriate for everyone, they can increase your chances of finally kicking the smoking habit for good
  • Seek support from family members and friends. They want you to be healthy, too, and most will be more than happy to talk you through the cravings
  • If quitting forever seems too difficult, break the goal down and just take it one step at a time. Quit just for today—or if that’s too much to manage, resolve to quit smoking for just the next hour. As you achieve these smaller goals, quitting for good becomes easier
  • Consider joining a support group, either online or in person. Many offer skill-building exercises and built-in support systems that can help you stay smoke-free for good
  • Above all, get back on track—today or tomorrow at the latest. Slips happen, but they don’t have to come between you and your goals of quitting smoking

Enjoy the Benefits of Being Smoke-Free

While it does take time for the withdrawals and cravings to dissipate, the benefits of quitting smoking are almost instantaneous. Check out all the ways that your body will thank you for ending the cycle of addiction [20].

1.  Skin, Bones and Muscles

Quitting smoking improves your health, from the inside out. Much of the benefit comes from the increased availability of oxygen to these critical areas of your body.

Skin becomes clearer and brighter, and by quitting smoking, you’re eliminating the most common cause of premature ageing and wrinkles.

Muscles will become stronger and healthier, and your risk of fractures and osteoporosis decrease once you quit smoking.

2. Brain and Mental Health

As previously discussed, smoking changes brain structure. Quitting can reverse many of those changes. Mood, which can be severely impacted by smoking, will also start to level out once the withdrawals and cravings start to dissipate.

3. Blood and DNA

Smoking changes more than just your brain; even the smallest cellular molecules like your blood and DNA are affected, which can increase your risk of everything from blood clots to cancer. Thankfully, quitting can reverse some of those changes.

Your blood starts to thin, and it carries more oxygen to body structures, which improves circulation and the health of every cell in your body.

Damaged DNA can work to repair itself, and you’re no longer causing additional damage once you quit, which can decrease your overall risk of developing all forms of cancer.

White blood cells, which help to heal your body after an injury or during an infection, will start to replenish, and your immune system will grow stronger. As a result, you’ll be less susceptible to developing illnesses and infections.

4. Throat and Mouth

Smoking can coat your throat and change your voice. It also causes yellow teeth, bad breath, and cancers of the mouth and throat.

By quitting, you not only decrease your chances of developing these life-threatening conditions, but you can also improve your breath and stop the smoking-related decay of teeth. Your voice will also become clearer and mucous buildup will decrease.

5. Sensory Systems

Quitting smoking can improve your night vision and your sense of taste and smell. You also stop the damage that smoking does to your eyes and ears which can decrease your risk of developing hearing or vision problems in the future.

6. Hormones and Sexual Health

Quitting smoking can allow your hormone levels to return to normal. For women, this increases your chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy.

It can also mean less irritability, decreased sexual drive, and other symptoms associated with low estrogen levels.

For men, quitting smoking can return testosterone levels to normal, which has been known to reverse or improve the symptoms of erectile dysfunction.

7. Stomach and Digestive System

Smoking can cause your body to hold on to extra fat stores, particularly in the abdominal area. Quitting can flatten your stomach—but the benefit to your digestive system goes well beyond appearance.

Every structure, from your pancreas to your colon, will benefit. By stopping smoking, you decrease your risk of developing a wide range of digestive problems, including heartburn, gallstones, Crohn’s disease, ulcers, liver problems, and diabetes.

8. Heart and Circulatory System

Smoking has a permanent impact on your heart and circulatory system, so your risk of having a heart attack or stroke will never return to what it was before you started.

However, you can stop the cycle of damage and decrease your risk of developing a serious smoking-related condition.

The heart and circulatory system do also heal, to an extent, once you quit. In fact, your risk of experiencing a heart attack starts to decline within just 24 hours of quitting. The longer you stay smoke-free, the more your risk diminishes.

Smoking does not just affect your heart, however. It can also increase cholesterol levels and cause fatty buildup in your veins and hardening of the arteries, which raises your chances of experiencing a stroke or heart attack.

Quitting does not reverse the damage, but it does allow you to slow down the process and decrease your risk in comparison to continuing.

Stopping now is your best chance at avoiding these serious and potentially life-threatening conditions.

9. Lungs and Respiratory System

Of all the systems impacted by smoking, the lungs and respiratory systems take the biggest hit.

Scarring of the lungs from smoking cannot be reversed, unfortunately, and at least some of the damage is likely to be permanent.

However, the lungs do start to regain strength within just two weeks of quitting smoking.

Cilia, little hairs responsible for filtering out debris that find its way into your lungs, start to regrow and regain normal function quickly. In fact, they are one of the first structures to heal once you quit.

You may start to cough more, initially, but this is actually a sign that the cilia are working properly and expelling excess mucus from your lungs. You’ll also improve your ability to fight off colds and decrease your chances of developing pneumonia and emphysema.

Prepare to Stay Smoke-Free

As previously discussed, quitting smoking is hard. In fact, it could be one of the more difficult things you’ve ever done. Recognizing that the process takes time and having a plan in place can significantly increase your chances of success. Use the following tips to prepare.

1. Make the Decision to Quit

Every smoker says they “need to quit,” but knowing this and actually committing to it is not the same thing. Make the decision to stop, whatever it takes.

2. Set a Quit Date

While there’s no perfect time to quit, many people find when they commit to quitting on a specific day. Mark it on your calendar. prepare for it in advance, and then stick to your decision.

3. Develop a Plan

Every smoker’s path to quitting is different, but those who develop a plan tend to be more successful.

That is because they have a realistic view of what it’s going to take to curb the cravings and withdrawals, and they have a plan for managing them.

Whether it’s using nicotine replacement therapy, prescription medications, or simply relying on your support system, know what resources you’ll use when you’re tempted to smoke and have them outlined in your smoking cessation plan.

4. Build a Support System

Quitting is hard, but you don’t have to do it alone. Friends, family members, and even co-workers can help to support you in your quest to quit. There are even support groups for quitting smoking.

Know where these resources can be found and have at least a few trusted individuals before your quit day arrives and you’ll significantly increase your chances of quitting for good.

5. Know Your Reasons for Quitting

Do you want to live a healthier life? Want to ensure you’re around for your children or grandkids? Are you tired of smelling like cigarette smoke? Your reasons for wanting to quit can help to steel your resolve in moments of weakness.

Focus on them. If necessary, write them down and carry them with you. They remind you of why you’re fighting so hard to quit.

6. Be Prepared for Slips and Hard Days

Triggers and temptation are everywhere. Be prepared for those hard days. Know that slips can and do happen, but also recognise that they don’t have to get in the way of you quitting.

The choice is up to you. Just remind yourself that quitting now can improve your health and decrease your risk of serious health complications in the future.

Recognise the Signs of Depression

Smokers are more likely to experience depression [21]. No one really knows why—it could be that depression sufferers are more prone to picking up the habit, but it could also be that smoking changes the brain and increases the smoker’s risk of developing the condition.

Either way, it is important that you know how to recognise the signs of depression before your official quit date, as doing so can help you better manage cravings and withdrawals.

Depression is more than simply feeling sad or blue [22]. It is a persistent and almost overwhelming feeling that lasts for weeks, months, or even years—and it may not even be a sense of sadness.

Instead, you may simply experience things like mood changes and a loss of interest in things that you used to enjoy.

You may struggle to cope with or take pleasure in your normal, everyday activities.

Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia and difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep may also occur, or you may notice that you’re more tired than usual or become easily fatigued.

Other symptoms of depression may include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Restlessness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Persistent aches and pains with no known cause
  • Headaches
  • Pessimism or a sense of hopelessness
  • Persistent anxiety
  • Feeling “empty” or unmotivated
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Suicidal thoughts or feelings

If you’re prone to depression or have been diagnosed with clinical depression, try incorporating a few depression-busting strategies into your quit plan. Resolve to exercise daily.

Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and maintain a sleep routine. Studies show that these two strategies alone can significantly decrease your risk of depression, and they can even curb a current state of depression.

You can also try doing small things that boost your mood, such as going to lunch with a friend or splurging on ice cream at the end of your week.

It’s also extremely important that you have a support system in place.

Friends, family members, and co-workers can be invaluable, especially when the feelings become difficult to manage, and support groups can help you feel less alone in your struggles.

If symptoms persist or worsen over time, consider speaking with your GP about alternatives such as therapy or medication to manage the depression as you work through your quit plan.

Above all, seek immediate help if you begin to experience suicidal thoughts or feelings. Hotlines are available, as are clinics and emergency rooms. Utilize these resources whenever necessary.

Reduce Your Stress

Depression isn’t the only challenge that a smoker may face when trying to quit. Stress can be a major issue as well.

That is because many smokers use cigarettes as a way to avoid feeling anxious or stressed, but with the crutch gone, those feelings become unmanageable.

Of course, smoking doesn’t actually relieve stress. If anything, it perpetuates it through nicotine cravings [23].

So, rather than reach for a cigarette when you’re feeling irritable or overwhelmed, try one of these stress-busting strategies [24]:

  • Exercise Regularly: Numerous studies have shown that exercise provides stress-relieving benefits. It allows you to clear your mind and dispel some of the emotional intensity you’re feeling, which can allow you to handle the stress-inducing situation more calmly. Aerobic exercise has also been shown to decrease the risk of developing depression and anxiety
  • Take Control of Your Thoughts: Passive thinking can leave you feeling out of control and unable to change your situation. Yet, this is rarely the case. Shift to an active mindset and consider what, if any, possible solutions may exist to your situation. Even when faced with a situation that cannot be actively changed by you, it is possible to control how you respond
  • Foster Healthy Connections: Everyone needs support from time to time. This is especially true when quitting smoking and dealing with high levels of stress. Often, friends and family members can help you reframe your thinking so that problems seem more manageable. At the very least, they can help you develop a possible solution
  • Practice Good Self-Care: Overwhelming stress levels can often be attributed to poor self-care, which has become extremely common in today’s fast-paced world. In contrast, by taking the time to spend with family and friends, relaxing and reading a book, meditating, disengaging from social media, and reducing the number of days or hours you work, you can significantly improve your mood and promote feelings of calm and relaxation into your routine
  • Try Some Positive Thinking Exercises: Anyone can become a victim of negative self-talk and pessimism. When you first quit smoking, these forms of negativity can go into overdrive. Combat them with some positive self-talk. Offer yourself the same level of patience, forgiveness, and love that you provide to those around you. Consider what you’re grateful for in your life, and do your best to see the glass half full, rather than half empty

Anxiety, which is more than just stress, can emerge once you quit smoking as well. Talk to your doctor if your mood starts to hinder your ability to work, attend school, or function in day-to-day activities.

Depending on the situation, medication and/or therapy may a viable solution.

Avoid Secondhand Smoke

Quitting smoking can improve more than just your own health; your kids, spouse, friends, and other loved ones are likely to benefit from you quitting as well. That is because secondhand smoke can be just as deadly and damaging to a person’s health as actively smoking.

Understanding the Dangers of Secondhand Smoke

Immediately after a cigarette is lit, the smoke from the cigarette starts to harm you and the people around you.

People often assume that secondhand smoke is less dangerous than actually smoking a cigarette, but studies show that the damaging effects of secondhand smoke can be just as severe as actively smoking.

Non-smokers can become susceptible to many of the same health risks as actual smokers, including lung cancer, heart disease, breathing troubles, and the excess production of mucus or phlegm [25].

People who inhale secondhand smoke may also be less capable of warding off colds and other respiratory illnesses, such as pneumonia.

Babies, children, and pregnant mothers are considered to be at especially high risk for health complications from secondhand smoke exposure.

In fact, studies indicate that expectant mothers are more likely to give birth to an infant of low birth weight when exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy.

Infants exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to suffer from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), otherwise known as crib death, and they may be more prone to serious and potentially fatal lung infections.  [26]

Young children exposed to secondhand smoke have an increased risk of developing pneumonia, bronchitis, and ear infections, and kids with asthma may experience more frequent and severe attacks when they are exposed to secondhand smoke on a regular basis.

Second-hand smoke – key points
  • Second-hand smoke exposure causes disease and premature death in children and adults who do not smoke
  • Children exposed to second-hand smoke are at an increased risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems and more severe asthma
  • Childhood exposure to parental smoking causes respiratory symptoms and slow lung growth in children
  • Exposure of adults to second-hand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and can cause coronary heart disease and lung cancer
  • Scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to second-hand smoke
  • Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces fully protects non-smokers from exposure to second-hand smoke. Separating smokers from non-smokers, cleaning the air and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate the exposure of non-smokers to second-hand smoke

Other Ways Secondhand Smoke Affects Your Loved Ones

The negative effects of secondhand smoke go beyond the risk of one’s health. The money you spend to smoke may be placing a financial burden on your family. At the very least, it is “wasted” money that could be used in other ways, such as planning a fun trip for your entire family.

Many smokers opt to use this as a motivation to quit; they set aside the money that they would have used on cigarettes and then put it toward something fun and enjoyable.

Since it is best for you to smoke outdoors, away from your family, you could also miss out on some critical or important moments or conversations. Being a smoker also increases the chances that your children will one day start smoking themselves.

Thankfully, quitting allows you to curb many of these issues.

Limiting Exposure to Secondhand Smoke

The risks associated with secondhand smoke inhalation remain, even after the cigarette has been put out. It lingers in the air for hours, and it can stick to your clothing, hair, furniture, and walls. Breathing it in, even for just a short time, can negatively impact a person’s health.

Protect your family and limit their exposure to secondhand smoke by quitting. Or, if you’re not ready to quit or have a slip, be sure to only smoke outdoors.

Wash your hands and change your clothes afterwards, especially if you expect to be around a person considered to be at high-risk for secondhand smoke exposure (infants, children, and expectant mothers).

Maintain this rule for other adults in your family that plan to continue smoking after you’ve quit.

Demand that the house and your vehicles remain smoke-free. Ask those individuals to steer clear of children and other at-risk individuals until after they’ve washed their hands and changed their clothing.

Your family will thank you for doing it, and it may even increase your chances of being successful in the quest to quit smoking for good.

Top 10 Tips on How to Stop Smoking – Allen Carr’s Easyway

Addiction is a strange beast—one that cannot be combatted without effective tools and a deep knowledge of how and why it occurs.

Allen Carr, the developer of the “Easyway” understands this, and he developed a strategy for curbing your smoking addiction for good [27].

It’s been in practice for more than 30 years, and it has helped thousands to finally break free from their smoking addiction—even some top-name celebrities. He outlines ten simple steps:

1. Set a Day and Time to Stop Smoking

Nearly all smoking cessation plans encourage you to set a quit day and time. However, unlike many other programs, the Easyway suggests that you avoid cutting back or limiting your nicotine intake before the quit date.

The thought process is that it makes your cigarettes seem more precious, thereby increasing your anxiety and making it more difficult to quit when it’s time.

2. Reframe Your Perspective While You Wait

As you work toward your quit date, spend time reframing how you see the act of smoking. Most people see it as giving up, but cigarettes offer no real benefit. In fact, they’re only hurting you!

The Easyway encourages you to meditate on all the things you’re gaining, rather than what you’re losing.

Think of all the money you’ll save, and how quitting will improve your health and benefit your family and loved ones. In short, remember that you’re not losing anything but gaining literally everything by finally kicking your smoking habit for good.

3. Make a Vow While Smoking Your Last Cigarette

When your quit day and time arrive, sit down and light your last cigarette. Remind yourself that you’re not losing something, but instead gaining better health, improved relationships, and more financial freedom.

Vow that you will not give these things up easily—especially for something that is harming you and your family. Focus on the good decision you’re making and resolve to stick to it, no matter how difficult it becomes in the days and weeks to come.

4. View Cravings and Withdrawals in a New Light

Nicotine cravings and withdrawals are not painful or dangerous. In fact, they’re good for you! It’s a sign that your body and brain are healing from the damaging effects of nicotine abuse.

So, rather than allow yourself to feel like you’re missing out on something, try viewing your cravings and withdrawals in a different light.

Do something you enjoy when the waves are most intense, and rather than think about how you “can’t smoke,” revel in the moment. Focus on how wonderful it is to breathe fresh air and not be choking on disgusting cigarette smoke.

5. Don’t Avoid Thinking About It — That NEVER Works

Most people have been fooled into thinking that their inability to make a change is due to a lack of willpower. This simply isn’t the case.

Instead, the real trouble is that people often feel bad for having normal thoughts and emotions when trying to change their habits. The same can be said for quitting smoking.

The Easyway suggests that you focus on positive thinking whenever a craving comes, rather than trying to avoid thinking about smoking altogether. In short, you’re not trying to keep your brain from having thoughts about smoking; you’re simply changing your perspective on the matter.

6. Continue Living Your Life – And Don’t Avoid Socialising with Smokers

Other smokers pose some of the biggest risks to your goals of quitting. Rather than try to avoid them, the Easyway encourages you to continue socialising them as a non-smoker.

Granted, you may not go out for smoke breaks during your lunch, but you can still have fun with your friends and family members, even if they choose to continue smoking.

By not limiting the relationship, you can build your tolerance when it comes to cigarette exposure, which makes you stronger at resisting the occasional offer or request of a cigarette that can come from someone you know.

7. There is No Such Thing as “Just One Cigarette”

In a moment of weakness or great stress, it can be tempting to have “just one,” but there is no such thing for a smoker. Even just one cigarette can restart the cycle of addiction, and though slips may occur, you have to get right back on track immediately after.

Remember, you vowed to stick this out, no matter what. Whatever you’re facing that’s making you want to smoke, it will pass, but the effects of continuing to smoke can last for the rest of your life.

8. Avoid Nicotine Replacements

While nicotine replacement therapy can help you manage the cravings and withdrawal from nicotine, the truth is that these substances do prolong the cycle of addiction.

The longer you use them, the greater your risk of returning to smoking.

The Easyway suggests staying away from all forms of nicotine replacement, but consider your decision about it carefully.

Many smokers have quit successfully using nicotine replacement. Your doctor can help advise you of the best strategy for your situation.

9. Get Rid of Your Cigarettes and All Smoking Paraphernalia

Since you’re no longer a smoker, you don’t need your cigarettes, lighters, or ashtrays. Get rid of them and remove the temptation to fall back into old habits. Don’t keep a “spare” or hidden pack.

Don’t hold onto anything that may cause you to relapse into smoking. Quite simply, the risk isn’t worth what little peace of mind you think you’re gaining by keeping these items around.

10. Enjoy Your Life as a Non-Smoker

As a non-smoker, you’re no longer tied to the rituals and habits that kept you hostage. You’re free to make plans for lunch with friends. You can stay for the entire show instead of stepping out in the middle of it for a smoke break.

Best of all, you’ll have more time and freedom to enjoy the things and people that you love most.

Don’t wait until the cravings and withdrawals dissipate to start; you’re already a non-smoker, so start reaping those benefits now!

Just remember to be on guard for those moments that try to pull you back into the addiction and handle them before they get out of control.

Teen Smoking: Helping Your Teen Quit

One of the most heartbreaking parts of smoking is knowing that your own children are likely to take up the habit as well. If your teen has already started, take the matter seriously.

Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. In fact, it could set them up for a lifetime of addiction. Instead, try some proven and effective strategies for supporting your teen and helping them curb their smoking now – before it becomes a life-long habit [28].

1. Start by Setting a Good Example

Not every teen who smokes has a parental figure that engages in the habit, but the chances of smoking are higher for teens when their parents smoke. Likewise, when parents quit smoking, they set a good example for their kids. Keep this in mind as you work through your quit plan.

2. Start Communicating with Your Teen About Smoking

You may have discussed smoking with your teen before you quit, but when you’re actively smoking, those conversations do not always produce the desired effect. As a non-smoker, you are better poised to openly speak to your teen about the dangers and risks associated with smoking.

It’s also advised that you take some time to understand how and why your teen started smoking in the first place.

Many start smoking to gain social acceptance. Others figured they’d just try it but then became addicted. Insight into the root cause of your teen’s smoking can better enable you to help them in developing a plan or strategy for turning things around.

3. Appeal to Your Teen’s Vanity

While it is advised that you speak to your teen about the health concerns of smoking, it is not always effective. Part of this is because teens still lack the reasoning skills that tie cause and consequence.

They misperceive their risks. So, rather than focus on just the health aspects, talk to your teen about their concerns over appearance.

Talk about how smoking makes their clothes and breath smell. Ask how their current (or potential) girlfriend or boyfriend might feel about kissing them after they’ve smoked.

Point out issues related to the appearance of their skin (acne, discolouration, etc.) that can be caused by smoking. In short, use their vanity to appeal to them during discussions about quitting smoking.

4. Discourage the Use of Nicotine Replacement

While teens are likely to experience the exact same withdrawals and cravings as adults, their symptoms tend to dissipate more quickly.

Considering the risk that continued nicotine use poses to their health, parents should discourage the use of any nicotine replacement options (including e-cigarettes) whenever possible.

However, if your teen seems to struggle with quitting, it may be worth speaking to your doctor about possible nicotine replacement options.

5. Help Your Teen Develop a Plan for Quitting

Teens often assume that they can quit anytime, that it will be easier for them than adult smokers. Unfortunately, they can become addicted just as quickly an adult can.

To help them understand this, ask if they have any friends that have tried to quit and failed. Once you have them on board, work with them to develop a comprehensive quit plan that addresses their unique and specific triggers.

Start with the basics—setting a quit date, knowing the reasons for quitting, having a plan for managing withdrawals and cravings (even if it means using medication or nicotine replacement therapy under the advisement of a physician), putting a support system in place—but customise it for your child.

By taking this step, you can greatly increase your child’s chances of successfully quitting for good.

6. Talk to Your Teen About Slips

Nearly every smoker admonishes themselves for a slip. Many fall right back into the cycle of addiction. Yet, as previously discussed, slips can and do happen—even to teen smokers.

Help your teen to understand this. Let them know they can talk to you if they have a craving or a slip. If and when does occur, encourage them and tell them how proud you are of their progress.

7. Be a Pillar of Support

 Support is crucial for those who are trying to quit smoking, even for teens. As their parent, it is your job to be an unwavering pillar.

Avoid admonishing them if they have a slip. Be willing to listen when they have a craving, and resist the urge to lecture or tell them how to manage it. Instead, ask how they plan to get through it.

By supporting, rather than directing, you put your teen in power and control. In turn, their chances of successfully quitting are greatly increased.

References:

[1] Tips from Former Smokers, Know Your Reasons for Quitting – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/guide/reasons-to-quit.html (CDC website)

[2] Tips from Former Smokers, Make a Decision to Quit – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/guide/why-quitting-is-hard.html (CDC website)

[3] Tips from Former Smokers, Take Steps to Quit – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/guide/steps-to-prepare.html (CDC website)

[4] Quit Smoking – Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/quit-smoking/in-depth/nicotine-craving/art-20045454 (Mayo Clinic website)

[5] CBT for Quitting Smoking – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Los Angeles: http://cogbtherapy.com/quit-smoking-los-angeles (CBT Los Angeles website)

[6] Top 10 Tips on How to Quit Smoking, Allen Carr’s Easyway: https://www.allencarr.com/usa/free-information/quit-smoking/top-tips-on-how-to-stop-smoking-using-allen-carrs-easyway/ (Allen Carr’s Easyway website)

[7] Tips from Former Smokers, Learn About Nicotine Replacement Therapy – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/guide/explore-medications.html (CDC website)

[8] Can Lasers Help You Stop Smoking? Check the Data – Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lasers-smoking/can-lasers-help-you-stop-smoking-check-the-data-idUSTRE68S3TM20100929 (Reuters website)

[9] Acupuncture and Related Interventions for Smoking Cessation – Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews (https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000009.pub4/full (Cochrane Library website)

[10] Alternative Therapies to Reduce Dependence – swedish.org: https://www.swedish.org/classes-and-resources/smoking-cessation/additional-therapies-to-reduce-dependence (Swedish medical website)

[11] Vitamins and Supplements Center – WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/condition-1587/smoking+cessation (WebMD website)

[12] 5 Vaping Facts You Need to Know – Hopkins Medicine: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-truths-you-need-to-know-about-vaping (Hopkins Medicine website)

[13] Prescription Drugs to Help You Quit Tobacco – American Cancer Society: https://www.cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/guide-quitting-smoking/prescription-drugs-to-help-you-quit-smoking.html (American Cancer Society website)

[14] Tips from Former Smokers, Build Support to Stay Quit – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/guide/getting-support.html (CDC website)

[15] Tips from Former Smokers, Manage Your Quit Day – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/guide/steps-on-quit-day.html (CDC website)

[16] Tips from Former Smokers, Prepare for Cravings – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/guide/cravings.html (CDC website)

[17] How to Quit Smoking Plan, 8 Steps to Quitting for Good -Addictions and Recovery: https://www.addictionsandrecovery.org/quit-smoking/how-to-quit-smoking-plan.htm (Addictions and Recovery website)

[18] Nicotine Alters Neurotransmission in Habit-Forming Brain Region – Society for Neuroscience: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180625130950.htm (Science Daily Website)

[19]  Tips from Former Smokers, Prevent Slips – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/guide/slips.html (CDC website)

[20] Tips from Former Smokers, Enjoy Benefits of Being Smoke-Free – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.govItobacco/campaignItips/quit-smoking/guide/rewards-of-quitting.html (CDC website)

[21] How to Quit Smoking, Recognize Signs of Depression – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/guide/depression-and-smoking.html (CDC website)

[22] Symptoms of Depression – WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/detecting-depression#1-2 (WebMD website)

[23] Tips from Former Smokers, Reduce Your Stress – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.govItobacco/campaignItips/quit-smoking/guide/stress-and-smoking.html (CDC website)

[24] 10 Stress Buster – National Health Service: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/reduce-stress/ (NHS website)

[25] Tips from Former Smokers, Avoid Secondhand Smoke: https://www.cdc.govItobacco/campaignItips/quit-smoking/guide/secondhand-smoke.html (CDC website)

[26] The Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – New England Journal of Medicine https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3268262/ (PMC website)

[27] Top 10 Tips on How to Stop Smoking -Allen Carr’s Easyway: https://www.allencarr.com/free-information/stop-smokingltop-tips-on-how-to-stop-smoking-using-allen-carrseasyway/ (Allen Carr’s Easyway website)

[28] Teen Smoking, How to Help Your Teen Quit – Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthylifestyleltween-and-teen-health/in-depthlteen-smoking/art-20046474 (Mayo Clinic website)

 

 

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