Clearing the Air: How to Quit Smoking…and Quit for Keeps —National Institutes of Health


Clearing the Air:How to Quit Smoking…and Quit for Keeps

by National Institutes of Health

INTRODUCTION
  PREPARING YOURSELF FOR QUITTING
  KNOWING WHAT TO EXPECT
  INVOLVING SOMEONE ELSE
  WAYS OF QUITTING

JUST BEFORE QUITTING
  ON THE DAY YOU QUIT
  IMMEDIATELY AFTER QUITTING

SNACK CALORIE CHART
  WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOU QUIT SMOKING

WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS AND   ACTIVITIES THAT MIGHT HELP
  QUITTING FOR KEEPS

MARKING PROGRESS
  COMMON RATIONALIZATIONS
  FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

 

INTRODUCTION

This book guides you from thinking about stopping smoking through actually doing it-from the day you quit to quitting for keeps. It gives tips on fighting temptation-and   what to do if you give in-and on avoiding weight gain (a handy Snack Calorie Chart is included). By telling you what to expect, it can help you through the day-by-day process of becoming a nonsmoker.

In this booklet, you’ll find a variety of tips and helpful hints on kicking your smoking habit. Take a few moments to look at each suggestion carefully. Pick those you   feel comfortable with and decide today that you’re going to use them to quit. It may take a while to find the combination that’s right for you, but you can quit for good,   even if you’ve tried to quit before.

Many smokers have successfully given up cigarettes by replacing them with new habits without quitting "cold turkey," planning a special program, or seeking   professional help.

The following approaches include many of those most popular with ex-smokers. Remember that successful methods are as different as the people who use them. What may seem silly   to others may be just what you need to quit. So don’t be embarrassed to try something new. These methods can make your own personal efforts a little easier.

Pick the ideas that make sense to you. And then follow through. You’ll have a much better chance of success.

PREPARING YOURSELF FOR QUITTING

       
  • Decide positively that you want to quit. Try to avoid negative thoughts about how difficult it might be.
  •    
  • List all the reasons you want to quit. Every night before going to bed, repeat one of those reasons 10 times.
  •    
  • Develop strong personal reasons in addition to your health and obligations to others. For example, think of all the time you waste taking cigarette breaks, rushing out to buy a       pack, hunting for a light, etc.
  •    
  • Begin to condition yourself physically: Start a modest exercise program; drink more fluids; get plenty of rest; and avoid fatigue.
  •    
  • Set a target date for quitting-perhaps a special day such as your birthday, your anniversary, or the Great American Smokeout. If you smoke heavily at work, quit during your vacation so that you’re already committed to quitting when you return. Make the date sacred and don’t let anything change it. This will make it easy for you to keep track of the day you became a nonsmoker and to celebrate that date every year.
  •  

KNOWING WHAT TO EXPECT

       
  • Have realistic expectations-quitting isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible either. More than 3 million Americans quit every year.
  •    
  • Understand that withdrawal symptoms are temporary. They usually last only 1-2 weeks.
  •    
  • Know that most relapses occur in the first week after quitting, when withdrawal symptoms are strongest, and your body is still dependent on nicotine. Be aware that this will be       your hardest time and use all your personal resources, willpower, family, friends, and the tips in this booklet-to get you through this critical period successfully.
  •    
  • Know that most other relapses occur in the first 3 months after quitting, when situational triggers, such as a particularly stressful event, occur unexpectedly. These       are the times when people reach for cigarettes automatically, because they associate smoking with relaxing. This is the kind of situation that’s hard to prepare yourself for       until it happens, so it’s especially important to recognize it if it does happen. Remember that smoking is a habit, but a habit you can break.
  •    
  • Realize that most successful ex-smokers quit for good only after several attempts. You may be one of those who can quit on your first try. But if you’re not, don’t give up. Try       again.
  •  

INVOLVING SOMEONE ELSE

       
  • Bet a friend you can quit on your target date. Put your cigarette money aside for every day you don’t smoke and forfeit it if you smoke. (But if you do smoke, don’t give up. Simply strengthen your resolve and try again.)
  •    
  • Ask your friend or spouse to quit with you.
  •    
  • Tell your family and friends that you’re quitting and when. They can be an important source of support both before and after you quit.
  •  

WAYS OF QUITTING

Switch Brands

       
  • Switch to a brand you find distasteful.
  •    
  • Change to a brand that is low in tar and nicotine a couple of weeks before your target date. This will help change your smoking behavior. However, do not smoke more       cigarettes, inhale them more often or more deeply, or place your fingertips over the holes in the filters. These actions will increase your nicotine intake, and the idea is to get       your body used to functioning without nicotine.
  •  

Cut Down the Number of Cigarettes You Smoke

       
  • Smoke only half of each cigarette.
  •    
  • Each day, postpone the lighting of your first cigarette 1 hour.
  •    
  • Decide you’ll only smoke during odd or even hours of the day.
  •    
  • Decide beforehand how many cigarettes you’ll smoke during the day. For each additional cigarette, give a dollar to your favorite charity.
  •    
  • Change your eating habits to help you cut down. For example, drink milk, which many people consider incompatible with smoking. End meals or snacks with something that won’t       lead to a cigarette.
  •    
  • Reach for a glass of juice instead of a cigarette for a "pick-me-up."
  •    
  • Remember: Cutting down can help you quit, but it’s not a substitute for quitting. If you’re down to about seven cigarettes a day, it’s time to set your target date to quit and       get ready to stick to it.
  •  

Don’t Smoke   "Automatically"

       
  • Smoke only those cigarettes you really want. Catch yourself before you light up a cigarette out of pure habit.
  •    
  • Don’t empty your ashtrays. This will remind you of how many cigarettes you’ve smoked each day, and the sight and the smell of stale cigarettes butts will be very unpleasant.
  •    
  • Make yourself aware of each cigarette by using the opposite hand or putting cigarettes in an unfamiliar location or a different pocket to break the automatic reach.
  •    
  • If you light up many times during the day without even thinking about it, try to look into a mirror each time you put a match to your cigarette-you may decide you don’t need       it.
  •  

Make Smoking Inconvenient

       
  • Stop buying cigarettes by the carton. Wait until one pack is empty before you buy another.
  •    
  • Stop carrying cigarettes with you at home or at work. Make them difficult to get.
  •  

Make Smoking Unpleasant

       
  • Smoke only under circumstances that aren’t especially pleasurable for you. If you like to smoke with others, smoke alone. Turn your chair to an empty corner and focus only on       the cigarette you are smoking and all its many negative effects.
  •    
  • Collect all your cigarette butts in one large glass container as a visual reminder of the filth made by smoking.
  •  

JUST BEFORE QUITTING

       
  • Practice going without cigarettes.
  •    
  • Don’t think of never smoking again. Think of quitting in terms of 1 day at a time.
  •    
  • Tell yourself you won’t smoke today and then, don’t.
  •    
  • Clean your clothes to rid them of the cigarette smell, which can linger for a long time.
  •  

ON THE DAY YOU QUIT

       
  • Throw away all your cigarettes and matches. Hide your lighters and ashtrays.
  •    
  • Visit the dentist and have your teeth cleaned to get rid of tobacco stains. Notice how nice they look and resolve to keep them that way.
  •    
  • Make a list of things you’d like to buy for yourself or someone else. Estimate the cost in terms of packs of cigarettes and put the money aside to buy these presents.
  •    
  • Keep very busy on the big day. Go to the movies, exercise, take long walks, go bike riding.
  •    
  • Remind your family and friends that this is your quit date and ask them to help you over the rough spots of the first couple of days and weeks.
  •    
  • Buy yourself a treat or do something special to celebrate.
  •  

IMMEDIATELY AFTER QUITTING

       
  • Develop a clean, fresh, nonsmoking environment around yourself, at work and at home. Buy yourself flowers. You may be surprised how much you can enjoy their scent now.
  •    
  • The first few days after you quit, spend as much free time as possible in places where smoking isn’t allowed, such as libraries, museums, theaters, department stores, and       churches.
  •    
  • Drink large quantities of water and fruit juice (but avoid sodas that contain caffeine).
  •    
  • Try to avoid alcohol, coffee, and other beverages that you associate with cigarette smoking.
  •    
  • Strike up conversation instead of a match for a cigarette.
  •    
  • If you miss the sensation of having a cigarette in your hand, play with something else, such as a pencil, a paper clip, a marble.
  •    
  • If you miss having something in your mouth, try toothpicks or a fake cigarette.
  •  

Avoid Temptation

       
  • Instead of smoking after meals, get up from the table and brush your teeth or go for a walk.
  •    
  • If you always smoke while driving, listen to a particularly interesting radio program or your favorite music, or take public transportation for a while, if you can.
  •    
  • For the first 1-3 weeks, avoid situations you strongly associate with the pleasurable aspects of smoking, such as watching your favorite TV program, sitting in your favorite       chair, or having a cocktail before dinner.
  •    
  • Until you are confident of your ability to stay off cigarettes, limit your socializing to healthful, outdoor activities or situations where smoking is not allowed.
  •    
  • If you must be in a situation where you’ll be tempted to smoke, such as a cocktail or dinner party, try to associate with the nonsmokers there.
  •    
  • Try to analyze cigarette ads to understand how they attempt to "sell" you on individual brands.
  •  

When You Get the Crazies

       
  • Keep oral substitutes handy. Try carrots, pickles, sunflower seeds, apples, celery,raisins, or sugarless gum instead of a cigarette.
  •    
  • Take 10 deep breaths and hold the last one while lighting a match. Exhale slowly and blow out the match. Pretend it’s a cigarette and crush it out in an ashtray.
  •    
  • Take a shower or bath if possible.
  •    
  • Learn to relax quickly and deeply. Make yourself limp, visualize a soothing, pleasing situation and get away from it all for a moment. Concentrate on that peaceful image and       nothing else.
  •    
  • Light incense or a candle instead of a cigarette.
  •    
  • Never allow yourself to think that "one won’t hurt" -it will.
  •  

Find New Habits

       
  • Change your habits to make smoking difficult, impossible, or unnecessary. For example, it’s hard to smoke while you’re swimming, jogging, or playing tennis or handball. When       your desire for a cigarette is intense, wash your hands or the dishes, or try new recipes.
  •    
  • Do things that require you to use your hands. Try crossword puzzles, needlework,gardening, or household chores. Go bike riding or take the dog for a walk; give yourself a       manicure; write letters.
  •    
  • Enjoy having a clean-mouth taste and maintain it by brushing your teeth frequently and using a mouthwash.
  •    
  • Stretch a lot.
  •    
  • Get plenty of rest.
  •    
  • Pay attention to your appearance. Look and feel sharp.
  •    
  • Try to find time for the activities that are the most meaningful, satisfying, and important to you.
  •  

About Gaining Weight

Many people who are considering quitting are very concerned about gaining weight. If you are concerned about weight gain, keep these points in mind:

       
  • Quitting doesn’t mean you’ll automatically gain weight. When people gain, it’s because they often eat more once they quit.
  •    
  • The benefits of giving up cigarettes far outweigh the drawbacks of adding a few pounds. You’d have to gain a very large amount of weight to offset the many substantial health       benefits that a normal smoker gains by quitting. Watch what you eat, and if you are concerned about gaining weight, consider the tips that follow.
  •  

Tips To Help You Avoid Weight Gain

       
  • Make sure you have a well balanced diet, with the proper amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
  •    
  • Don’t set a target date for a holiday, when the temptation of high-calorie food and drinks may be too hard to resist.
  •    
  • Drink a glass of water before your meals.
  •    
  • Weigh yourself weekly.
  •    
  • Chew sugarless gum when you want sweet foods.
  •    
  • Plan menus carefully and count calories. Don’t try to lose weight; just try to maintain your prequitting weight.
  •    
  • Have low-calorie foods on hand for nibbling. Use the Snack Calorie Chart to choose foods that are both nutritious and low in calories. Some good       choices are fresh fruits and vegetables, fruit and vegetable juices, low-fat cottage cheese, and air-popped popcorn without butter.
  •    
  • Take time for daily exercise or join an organized exercise group.
  •  

SNACK CALORIE CHART

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
SnacksCalories
BEVERAGESCarbonated (per 8-ounce glass)
Cola-type95
Fruit flavors (10-13% sugar)115
Ginger ale75
Fruit drinks (per 1/2 cup)
Apricot nectar70
Cranberry juice80
Grape drink70
Lemonade (frozen)55
Fruit juices (per 1/2 cup)
Apple juice, canned60
Grape juice, bottled80
Grapefruit juice, canned, unsweetened50
Orange juice, canned, unsweetened55
Pineapple juice, canned, unsweetened70
Prune juice, canned100
Vegetable juices (per 1/2 cup)
Tomato juice25
Vegetable juice cocktail20
Coffee and tea
Coffee, black3-5
with 1 tsp. sugar18-20
with 1 tsp. cream13-15
Tea, plain0-1
with 1 tsp. sugar15-16
CANDY, CHIPS,Candy (per ounce)
ANDHard candy110
PRETZELSJelly beans105
Marshmallows90
Gumdrops100
Chips (per cup)
Corn chips230
Potato chips115
Popcorn (air-popped, without butter)25
Pretzels
Dutch, 1 twisted60
Stick, 5 regular10
CHEESEAmerican, processed105
(per ounce)Cottage, creamed30
Cottage, low-fat (2%)25
Swiss, natural105
CRACKERS
Butter, 2-inch diameter15
Graham, 2 1/2 inches square, 255
Matzoh, 6-inch diameter80
Rye45
Saltine50
FRUITS (raw)Apple, 1 medium80
Apricots, fresh, 3 medium50
Apricots, dried, 5 halves40
Banana, 1 medium105
Blackberries, 1/2 cup35
Blueberries, 1/2 cup40
Cantaloupe, 1/4 melon50
Cherries, 1050
Dates, dried, 370
Fig, dried, 1 medium50
Grapefruit, 1/240
Grapes, 2030
Orange, 1 medium60
Peach, 1 medium35
Pear, 1 medium100
Pineapple, 1/2 cup40
Prunes, dried, 360
Raisins, 1/4 cup110
Strawberries, 1 cup45
Watermelon, 1 cup50
NUTS (per 2Almonds105
tablespoons)Brazil nuts115
Cashews100
Peanuts105
Pecans, halves95
VEGETABLESCarrots, 1/2 cup grated35
(raw)Celery, 5-inch stalks, 310
Pickle, 115-20

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOU QUIT SMOKING

Immediate Rewards

Within 12 hours after you have your last cigarette, your body will begin to heal itself. The levels of carbon monoxide and nicotine in your system will decline rapidly,   and your heart and lungs will begin to repair the damage caused by cigarette smoke

Within a few days you will probably begin to notice some remarkable changes in your body. Your sense of smell and taste may improve. You will breathe easier, and your   smoker’s hack will begin to disappear, although you may notice that you will continue to cough for a while. And you will be free of the mess, smell, inconvenience, expense, and   dependence of cigarette smoking.

Immediate Effects

As your body begins to repair itself, instead of feeling better right away, you may feel worse for a while. It’s important to understand that healing is a process-it begins   immediately, but it continues over time. These "withdrawal pangs" are really symptoms of the recovery process (See "Withdrawal Symptoms and Activities That Might Help".)

Immediately after quitting, many ex-smokers experience "symptoms of recovery" such as temporary weight gain caused by fluid retention, irregularity and dry, sore gums   or tongue. You may feel edgy, hungry, more tired, or more short-tempered than usual; you may have trouble sleeping or notice that you are coughing a lot. These symptoms are the   result of your body clearing itself of nicotine, a powerful addictive chemical. Most nicotine is gone from the body in 2-3 days.

Long-Range Benefits

It is important to understand that the after-effects of quitting are only temporary and signal the beginning of a healthier life. Now that you’ve quit, you’ve added a number of   healthy, productive days to each year of your life. Most important, you’ve greatly improved your chances for a longer life. You have significantly reduced your risk of death   from heart disease, stroke, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and several kinds of cancer-not just lung cancer. More than 400,000 deaths in the United States each year are from   smoking-related illnesses.

 

WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS AND ACTIVITIES THAT MIGHT HELP*

                                                                                                                                                                                                               
SYMPTOMACTIVITY
Dry mouth; sore throat, gums, or
      tongue
Sip ice-cold water or fruit juice, or chew gum.
HeadachesTake a warm bath or shower. Try relaxation or meditation techniques.
Trouble sleepingDon’t drink coffee, tea, or soda with caffeine after 6:00 p.m. Again, try relaxation or meditation techniques.
IrregularityAdd roughage to your diet, such as raw fruit, vegetables, and whole-grain cereals. Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day.
FatigueTake a nap. Try not to push yourself during this time; don’t expect too much of your body until it’s had a chance to begin to heal itself over a couple of weeks.
HungerDrink water or low-calorie liquids. Eat low-fat, low calorie snacks. (See "Snack Calorie Chart".)
Tenseness, irritabilityTake a walk, soak in a hot bath, try relaxation or meditation tech piques.
CoughingSip warm herbal tea. Suck on cough drops or sugarless hard candy.

*Adapted from Quitting Times: A Magazine for Women Who Smoke, funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Health; prepared by Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia.

 

QUITTING FOR KEEPS

Congratulations!

Now you are ready to develop a new habit-not smoking. Like any other habit, it takes time to become a part of you; unlike most other habits, though, not smoking will take some   conscious effort and practice. This section of the booklet can be a big help. You will find many techniques to use for developing the nonsmoking habit and holding on to it.

By reading this section of the booklet carefully and reviewing it often, you’ll become more aware of the places and situations that prompt the desire for a cigarette. You will   also learn about many nonsmoking ways to deal with the urge to smoke. These are called coping skills. Finally, you will learn what to do in case you do slip and give in to the   smoking urge.

Keep Your Guard Up

The key to living as a nonsmoker is to avoid letting your urges or cravings for a cigarette lead you to smoke. Don’t kid yourself-even though you have made a commitment not   to smoke, you will sometimes be tempted. But instead of giving in to the urge, you can use it as a learning experience.

First, remind yourself that you have quit and you are a nonsmoker. Then look closely at your urge to smoke and ask yourself:

       
  • Where was I when I got the urge?
  •    
  • What was I doing at the time?
  •    
  • Who was with me?
  •    
  • What was I thinking?
  •  

The urge to smoke after you’ve quit often hits at predictable times. The trick is to anticipate those times and find ways to cope with them-without smoking. Naturally, it   won’t be easy at first. In fact, you may continue to want a cigarette at times. But remember, even if you slip, it doesn’t mean an end to the nonsmoking you. It does mean   that you should try to identify what triggered your slip, strengthen your commitment to quitting, and try again.

Look at the following list of typical triggers. Do many of them ring a bell with you? Check off those that might trigger an urge to smoke, and add any others you can think of:

       
  • Working under pressure
  •    
  • Feeling blue
  •    
  • Talking on the telephone
  •    
  • Having a drink
  •    
  • Watching television
  •    
  • Driving your car
  •    
  • Finishing a meal
  •    
  • Playing cards
  •    
  • Drinking coffee
  •    
  • Watching someone else smoke
  •  

If you are like many new nonsmokers, the most difficult place to resist the urge to smoke is the most familiar-home. The activities most closely associated with smoking urges   are eating, partying, and drinking. And, not surprisingly, most urges occur when a smoker is present

How to Dampen That Urge

There are seven major coping skills to help you fight the urge to smoke. These tips are designed for you, the new nonsmoker, to help you nurture the nonsmoking habit.

1. Think about why you quit.

Go back to your list of reasons for quitting. Look at this list several times a day,especially when you are hit with the urge to smoke. The best reasons you could have for   quitting are very personally yours, and these are also the best reasons to stay a nonsmoker.

2. Know when you are rationalizing.

It is easy to rationalize yourself back into smoking. (See "Common Rationalizations".) Don’t talk yourself into smoking again. A new nonsmoker in a tense situation may think, "I’ll just have one cigarette to calm myself down." If thoughts like this pop into your head, stop and think again! You know better ways to relax, nonsmokers’ ways, such as taking a walk or doing breathing exercises.

Concern about gaining weight may also lead to rationalizations. Learn to counter thoughts, such as "I’d rather be thin, even if it means smoking." Remember that   a slight weight gain is not likely to endanger your health as much as smoking would. (Cigarette smokers have about a 70-percent higher rate of premature death than   nonsmokers.) And review the list of healthy, low-calorie snacks that you used when quitting.

3. Anticipate triggers and prepare to avoid them.

By now you know which situations, people, and feelings are likely to tempt you to smoke. Be prepared to meet these triggers head-on and counteract them. Keep using the   skills that helped you cope in cutting down and quitting:

       
  • Keep your hands busy-doodle, knit, type a letter.
  •    
  • Avoid people who smoke; spend more time with nonsmoking friends.
  •    
  • Find activities that make smoking difficult (gardening, washing the car, taking a shower). Exercise to help knock out the smoking urge; it will help you to feel and look       good as well.
  •    
  • Put something other than a cigarette in your mouth. Chew sugarless gum or nibble on a carrot or celery stick.
  •    
  • Avoid places where smoking is permitted. Sit in the nonsmoking section of restaurants, trains, and planes.
  •    
  • Reduce your consumption of alcohol, which often stimulates the desire to smoke. Try to have no more than one or two drinks at a party. Better yet, have a glass of juice, soda,       or mineral water.
  •  

4. Reward yourself for not smoking.

Congratulations are in order each time you get through a day without smoking. After a week, give yourself a pat on the back and a reward of some kind. Buy a new tape or compact   disc. Treat yourself to a movie or concert. No matter how you do it, make sure you reward   yourself in some way. It helps to remind yourself that what you are doing is important.

5. Use positive thoughts.

If self-defeating thoughts start to creep in, remind yourself again that you are a nonsmoker, that you do not want to smoke, and that you have good reasons for quitting.   Putting yourself down and trying to hold out using willpower alone are not effective coping techniques. Mobilize the power of positive thinking!

6. Use relaxation techniques.

Breathing exercises help to reduce tension. Instead of having a cigarette, take a long deep breath, count to 10, and release it. Repeat this five times. See how much more   relaxed you feel?

7. Get social support.

The commitment to remain a nonsmoker can be made easier by talking about it with friends and relatives. They can congratulate you as you check off another day, week, and   month as a nonsmoker. Tell the people close to you that you might be tense for a while, so they know what to expect. They’ll be sympathetic when you have an urge to smoke and can be   counted on to help you resist it. Remember to call on your friends when you are lonely, or you feel an urge to smoke. A buddy system is a great technique.

 

Not Smoking Is Habit-Forming

Good for you! You have made a commitment not to smoke, and by using this booklet, you know what to do if you are tempted to forget that commitment. It is difficult to stay a   nonsmoker once you have had a cigarette so do everything possible to avoid it.

If you follow the advice in this booklet and use at least one coping skill whenever you have an urge to smoke, you will have quit for keeps!

Relapse: If You Do Smoke Again

If you slip and smoke, don’t be discouraged. Many former smokers tried to stop several times before they finally succeeded. Here’s what you should do:

       
  • Recognize that you have had a slip. A slip means that you have had a small setback and smoked a cigarette or two. But your first cigarette did not make you a smoker to start       with, and a small setback does not make you a smoker again.
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  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. One slip doesn’t mean you’re a failure or that you can’t be a nonsmoker, but it is important to get yourself back on the nonsmoking track immediately.
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  • Identify the trigger: Exactly what was it that prompted you to smoke? Be aware of the trigger and decide now how you will cope with it when it comes up again.
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  • Know and use the coping skills described above. People who know at least one coping skill are more likely to remain nonsmokers than those who do not know any.
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  • Sign a contract with yourself to remain a nonsmoker.
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  • If you think you need professional help, see your doctor. He or she can provide extra motivation for you to stop smoking. Your doctor may also prescribe nicotine gum or a       nicotine patch as an alternative source of nicotine while you break the habit of smoking.
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MARKING PROGRESS

       
  • Each month, on the anniversary of your quit date, plan a special celebration.
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  • Periodically, write down new reasons you are glad you quit and post these reasons where you will be sure to see them.
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  • Make up a calendar for the first 90 days. Cross off each day and indicate the money you saved by not smoking.
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  • Set other intermediate target dates and do something special with the money you have saved.
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COMMON RATIONALIZATIONS*

                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
RationalizationResponse
I’m under a lot of stress, and smoking relaxes me.Your body is used to nicotine, so you naturally feel more relaxed when you give your body a substance upon which it has grown dependent. But nicotine really is a       stimulant; it raises your heart rate, blood pressure, and adrenaline level. Most ex-smokers feel much less nervous just a few weeks after quitting.
Smoking makes me more effective in my work.Trouble concentrating can be a short-term symptom of quitting, but smoking actually deprives your brain of oxygen
I’ve already cut down to a safe level.Cutting down is a good first step, but there’s a big difference in the benefits to you between smoking a little and not smoking at all. Besides, smokers who cut back open inhale       more open and more deeply, negating many of the benefits of cutting back. After you’ve cut back to about seven cigarettes a day, it’s time to set a quit date.
I smoke only safe, low-tar/low-nicotine cigarettes.These cigarettes still contain harmful substances, and many smokers who use them inhale more open and more deeply to maintain their nicotine intake. Also, carbon monoxide       intake often increases with a switch to low-tar cigarettes.
It’s too hard to quit. I don’t have the willpower.Quitting and staying away from cigarettes is hard, but it’s not impossible. More than 3 million Americans quit every year. It’s important for you to remember that many       people have had to try more than once, and try more than one method, before they became ex-smokers, but they have done it, and so can you.
I’m worried about gaining weight.Most smokers who gain more than 5-10 pounds are eating more. Gaining weight isn’t inevitable. There are certain things you can do to help keep your       weight stable. (See Tips To Help You Avoid Weight Gain.)
I don’t know what to do with my hands.That’s a common complaint among ax-smokers. You can keep your hands busy in other ways; it’s just a matter of getting used to the change of not holding a cigarette.       Try holding something else, such as a pencil, paper clip, or marble. Practice simply keeping your hands clasped together. If you’re at home, think of all the things you wish       you had time to do, make a list, and consult the list for alternatives to smoking whenever       your hands feel restless.
Sometimes I have an a/most irresistible urge to have a cigarette.This is a common feeling, especially within the first 1-3 weeks. The longer you’re off cigarettes, the more your urges probably will come at times when you       smoked before, such as when you’re drinking coffee or alcohol or are at a cocktail party where other people are smoking. These are high risk situations, and you can help       yourself by avoiding them whenever possible. If you can’t avoid them, you can try to visualize in advance how you’ll handle the desire for a cigarette if it arises in those       situations.
I blew it. I smoked a cigarette.Smoking one or a few cigarettes doesn’t mean you’ve "blown it." It does mean that you have to strengthen your determination to quit and try again-harder.       Don’t forget that you got through several days, perhaps even weeks or months, without a cigarette. This shows that you don’t need cigarettes and that you can be a successful       quitter.

*Adapted from Clinical Opportunities for Smoking Intervention-A Guide for the Busy Physician. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. NIH Pub. No. 86-2178. August 1986.

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

The Cancer Information Service, a program of the National Cancer Institute, is a nationwide telephone service for cancer patients and their families and friends, the   public, and health care professionals. The staff can answer questions (in English or Spanish) and can send free National Cancer Institute materials about cancer. They also   know about support groups and other resources and services. One toll-free number, 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237), connects callers with the office that serves their area.

The following organizations also can help you. Contact them to learn more about quitting for keeps.

American Cancer Society
 
1599 Clifton Road, NE
  Atlanta, GA 30329
  (404) 320-3333

The American Cancer Society (ACS) is a voluntary organization composed of 58 divisions and 3,100 local units. Through "The Great American Smokeout" in November, the   annual Cancer Crusade in April, and the numerous educational materials, ACS helps people learn about the health hazards of smoking and become successful ex-smokers.

American Heart Association
 
7272 Greenville Avenue
  Dallas, TX 75231
  (214) 373-6300

The American Heart Association (AMA) is a voluntary organization with 130,000 members (physicians, scientists, and laypersons) in 55 state and regional groups. AHA produces a   variety of publications and audiovisual materials about the effects of smoking on the heart. AHA also has developed a guidebook for incorporating a weight-control component   into smoking cessation programs.

American Lung Association
 
1740 Broadway
  New York, NY 10019-4374
  (212) 315-8700

The oldest voluntary health agency with 57 state associations and 60 affiliates throughout the United States, the American Lung Association (ALA) provides help for   smokers who wish to quit through their Freedom From Smoking self-help smoking cessation program. The organization actively supports legislation and information campaigns for   nonsmokers’ rights and conducts public information programs about the health effects of smoking.

Consult your local telephone directory for listings of local chapters.

Office on Smoking and Health
 
Centers for Disease Control
  Mail Stop K-50
  4770 Buford Highway, NE
  Atlanta, GA 30341-3724
  (404) 488-5705

The Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) is the Department of Health and Human Services’lead agency in smoking control. OSH sponsors distribution of publications on   smoking-related topics, such as free flyers on relapse after initial quitting, helping a friend or family member quit smoking, the health hazards of smoking, and the effects of   parental smoking on teenagers.

 

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