Regional Cancer Center ~ Erie, PA

Tips to Quit Smoking

1. Developing a Master Plan

It takes planning and commitment to quit smoking. One of the best ways to become smoke-free is to develop a master plan for quitting. In developing your master plan, you should do the following:

  1. Identify personal reasons to quit.
  2. Set a quit date.
  3. Remember to take it “one day at a time."

2. Identifying Triggers

It also is important to identify triggers that tend to make you want to smoke. Once you know your triggers, you can either avoid them or change your behavior. Below lists several triggers and steps that you can take to avoid them.

Cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays, etc.

  • Get rid of smoking items

Coffee

  • Drink something else
  • Use a different mug
  • Drink coffee in a different place
  • Choose a different brand or flavor

Meals

  • Leave the table as soon as you are finished eating
  • Brush your teeth

Driving

  • Take a different route
  • Change your radio station
  • Listen to talk radio or books on tape
  • Put something else in your mouth, like sugarless gum or a cinnamon stick
  • Do deep breathing

3. Eliminating Cravings

Cravings are urges to smoke. Cravings can be intense at times. Important facts about cravings:

  • They occur close together in the early days of quitting.
  • Each craving is like a wave. It arrives, reaches a peak, and goes away even if you don’t smoke.
  • Cravings go away with time as long as you do not smoke. As time passes, you will have more time between cravings, and they will be shorter.
  • Respond to cravings with cognitive (thinking) and behavioral (doing) coping skills.

Several examples of coping skills to quit smoking include:

Cognitive (thinking)Behavioral (doing)
List personal reasons to quit and the benefits of quitting.Practice a deep-breathing technique.
Repeat the phrase, “Smoking is not an option.”Use handling substitutions such as a soft squeeze ball.
Repeat the single word, “Stop.”Try substances such as sugarless chewing gum.
Remind yourself, “Don’t destroy the progress made to date.”Start exercising. Check with your doctor before making any major changes in your exercise level.
Remember how far you have come.Keep busy.

Helpful Hints

Here are some suggestions to help you quit smoking:

  • Involve someone else as a support person. You may want more than one support person. Talk over with each person how you want him or her to help.
  • Cigarettes keep your hands busy. So when you quit, your hands will miss having a cigarette to handle. Keep them busy with pens, pencils, rubber bands, or squeeze balls. Items like these are sometimes called “handling substitutes.” Doodling can be a creative handling substitute.
  • Smoking also keeps your mouth busy. Use low-calorie or no-calorie items such as hard candy, sugarless gum, fresh fruits and vegetables, cinnamon sticks, or menthol cough drops. These items are sometimes called “oral substitutes.” Sugar-free candy and gum contain sorbitol. Too much can cause diarrhea. It also may be helpful to brush teeth frequently, use breath spray, or drink plenty of water.
  • Talk with your doctor about using a medicine such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or bupropion (Zyban).

Focus on the Positive

Positive thinking is an essential part of any effort to quit smoking. Here are 3 ways to focus on the positive:

  1. Make a list of personal reasons to quit and keep adding to it as you think of more.
  2. Focus on the benefits of not smoking.
  3. Build an attitude that you are better off as a non-smoker than as a smoker.

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