Want to quit smoking tobacco? There’s good reason to. Quitting smoking reduces your risk of cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. And let’s face it: Smoking is expensive, so kicking the habit can also save you a lot of cash.
Although quitting an addiction is inherently difficult and may take several tries, it’s not impossible. In fact, millions of people have successfully stopped smoking, and with hard work and the right strategies, you could become one of them. Try the following tips from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to help you quit smoking:
Get Ready to Quit
If you want to quit smoking, try to get motivated. Make a list of your reasons to quit, and write a contract to yourself that outlines your plan. You could either slowly limit how much you smoke before quitting fully or quit all at once by going “cold turkey.” Use the method that works best for you.
Determine what triggers you to smoke. For example, do you smoke after a meal, while driving or when you’re stressed? Develop a strategy to handle each trigger. If you’ve tried to quit smoking before, think about those attempts. What helped you during that time, and what made it harder?
Set a quit date, and let those close to you know about it. Ask your family and friends for support in your effort to quit smoking. You can also get support from hotlines and websites, such as 1-800-QUIT-NOW and smokefree.gov.
Try Medicine and Use It Correctly
Talk with your doctor and pharmacist about medicines and over-the-counter products that have been shown to help many people quit smoking. You can buy nicotine gum, patches and lozenges from a drug store, and other helpful medicines are available by prescription.
Learn New Skills and Behaviors
Try new activities to replace smoking. For example, instead of smoking after a meal, take a brisk walk in your neighborhood or around your office building. Take up knitting, carpentry or other hobbies and activities that keep your hands busy, and try to be physically active regularly.
Try to avoid smokers, and ask those you can’t avoid to respect your efforts to quit and not smoke around you. Remove cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters from your home, office and car, and try to avoid drinking alcohol, which makes people more likely to start smoking again after quitting.
Prepare for Withdrawal
Withdrawals can be challenging, but keep in mind that symptoms often lessen after only one or two weeks of not smoking. If you feel like smoking, wait a few minutes for the urge to pass, and remind yourself of the benefits of quitting.
Although many smokers gain weight after they quit, the average gain is 10 pounds or less. You can control this side effect by following a heart-healthy eating plan and being physically active. Remember the bright side: Food smells and tastes better if you don’t smoke.
Don’t Give Up
If you relapse and start smoking again, don’t get frustrated or discouraged. Most smokers make repeated attempts to quit before complete success. Accept that you slipped, learn from the experience and recommit to quitting smoking. Set a new quit date, and try again.