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Tips for quitting smoking

Ready to quit tobacco use?
Email icanquit@vcuhealth.org to get help.

 

You’ve decided to quit smoking. Congratulations! Here are some tips to help you to get STARTed.

S= Set a quit date
T= Tell family, friends and others
A= Anticipate your challenges; manage nicotine withdrawal
R= Remove cigarettes, other tobacco products and reminders
T= Talk with your doctor

Set a quit date

Setting a quit date will help you reach your goal. If you are not ready to set a quit date, that’s okay. Some people quit by slowly cutting down on how much they smoke daily. Review your reasons to quit and use the rest of the START steps to cut down and feel confident in setting a quit date later.

On your quit date:

  • Choose a day that you will be preoccupied with fun, relaxing or structured activities, not stressful tasks.
  • Get rid of any reminders of smoking (lighters, etc.).
  • Remind family and friends that today is your quit date.
  • Review your reasons to quit.
  • Review the START tips.
  • Celebrate the day you quit smoking each month.
  • Treat yourself to something special during the first 6 weeks off cigarettes.

Tell family, friends and others

Ask family and friends for help. Here’s how:

  • If they smoke, ask them to try to quit with you.
  • When you feel like smoking, ask them to help you focus on your reasons for quitting.
  • Ask them to always focus on what you have accomplished, not setbacks. Ask them to give you credit, no matter how small the success seems.
  • Practice relaxing together (deep breathing, walking).
  • Ask them to help you plan how to deal with urges.
  • Ask them to plan something to celebrate your quit day.
  • Ask them to just be there for you if you want to talk.
  • Have your phone handy to call or text family or friends.

Anticipate your challenges; manage nicotine withdrawal

  • Knowing what makes you want to smoke is an important part of quitting. Most people have triggers and habits that set them off or “tell” them to smoke. What are your triggers?
  • Triggers are people, places, things, situations, time and feelings; for example, being bored, drinking alcohol or coffee, eating meals, using a computer, driving, stress.
  • Learn about how to fight cravings and manage symptoms of nicotine withdrawal

Remove cigarettes, other tobacco products and reminders of smoking

Seeing reminders of smoking makes it harder to quit and to stay smoke-free. Throw away any items in your home, car and workplace that are related to smoking, such as packs of cigarettes, ashtrays, lighters and matches. In their places, set out gum, straws and other items that help you fight cravings. Wash any clothing that smells of smoke and clean your car.

Talk with your doctor

Talk with your doctor about tobacco treatment medications and referral to a certified tobacco treatment specialist. A combination of counseling and medication is the best approach to quitting smoking successfully.

The use of medications doubles quit rates. There are nicotine replacement medications as well as non-nicotine treatments and combination therapies.

Nicotine replacement medications include:

  • Patch, for example NicoDerm CQ
  • Gum, for example Nicorette
  • Nasal Spray, for example Nicotrol NS
  • Inhaler, for example NicotrolInhaler
  • Lozenge, for example Commit

Non-nicotine treatments include:

  • Bupropion (Zyban)
  • Varenicline (Chantix)

Combination therapies include:

  • Patch + other nicotine replacement treatment
  • Bupropion SR + nicotine replacement treatment
  • Bupropion SR + varenicline

In addition to medication, talk to your doctor about being referred to a certified tobacco treatment specialist. Certified tobacco treatment specialists provide tobacco cessation counseling, which adds a layer of support to cope with cravings. Using both cessation medication and counseling is four times more effective than quitting cold turkey.

Develop an action plan

In summary, develop your action plan. Make a list of reasons why you want to quit.

Talk to family and friends about quitting. Talk to your doctor about medication to help you quit. Think about strategies to cope with any triggers to smoking. Think of how you will reward yourself for not smoking, especially in the first 4-6 weeks. And congratulate yourself for making the change!