How do I quit smoking? Create a plan to kick the habit

Nov. 16, 2017

Quitting smoking can be one of the most difficult changes to make, but it's also one of the most rewarding.

Patty Mallaber, ANP-BC“Quitting smoking can be a challenge and it is important to be prepared for it,” says Patricia Mallaber, M.S., R.N., A.N.P.-B.C., C.T.T.S., nurse practitioner for Wilmot’s Tobacco Dependence Treatment Program. “Think about why you want to quit smoking. Think of the positive benefits you can gain like being healthier, breathing better and saving money.”

She offered these tips to create a plan:

Choose a specific day to quit. You can pick a date that is meaningful to you, like an anniversary or birthday, but it doesn’t have to be a special day. Any day is a good day to quit smoking! The night before your quit date, get rid of matches, ashtrays, lighters and cigarettes. Don’t forget to remove any items you may have stashed in the car or workplace.

Identify your triggers. What makes you want to smoke? These triggers could include stress, anxiety, boredom, watching TV, having coffee or alcohol, taking a break, driving, or talking on the phone. Social events, such as going out to a bar or seeing others smoking, can also trigger people to want to smoke. Come up with different ways you can deal with these triggers when they arise.

Plan activities to distract yourself. Cravings only last a few minutes.  If you are able to keep your mind busy for those few minutes, your craving may pass entirely. Activities could include playing games on your phone, deep breathing exercises, calling a friend to chat, replying to emails, reading or starting out a new hobby, such as a puzzle or a craft.

Think about what help or support you might need. Research tells us you’re more likely to have success if you have help. This includes help from your medical team or a counselor as well as your family and friends.  Your health care providers can recommend medications to help you through the process.  There are seven FDA-approved medications: nicotine patch, gum, lozenge, inhaler and nasal spray as well as two prescription medications bupropion and varenicline. These medications do not make you quit smoking but they can help make it more comfortable.

Also, a number of resources are available to support you:

Whatever plan you go with, it’s important to know that it takes most people many attempts before you quit for good. If you go back, don’t beat yourself up. Every little step forward helps and you can always try again.