Wellness: How to Quit Smoking in 5 Steps

By Helma Hassan

Despite the long-known facts regarding smoking’s potential to cause lung cancer and many other health problems, smoking remains one of the most difficult habits to give up on. Nicotine, one of the 4000 chemicals found in smoke from tobacco products, is known to induce addiction.

Most smokers know that tobacco is harmful and express a desire to decrease or stop using it but many succumb within just a few days, and less than 7% of those who try to quit on their own achieve about a year of abstinence. Quitting can be very tough for both occasional smokers and chronic frequent smoker. So, if you are really committed to quitting smoking, equip yourself with the right plan and support to help you make the best of your life changing resolution.

The following is a 5-step plan to stop smoking, shortened as the acronym START:

Step 1: Set a quit date

The first step to quitting smoking is to make the decision to quit! Even if you have failed before, do not let your past hinder your aim. The more times you try to quit, the greater your chances of success. Besides affirming your willpower, construct a plan to help you stick to your decision. How to plan, you may ask? Start by setting a quit date, preferably within the next two weeks. This will provide you with enough time to prepare without losing the motivation to quit.

If you mainly smoke at work, quit on the weekend, so you have a few days to adjust to the change. On the contrary, if you feel the urge to smoke during the weekend, or your workplace does not allow smoking, then any weekday would make a perfect quit day. Avoid a day when you know you’ll be busy, tense, or have a special event that could be a trigger. Write down your quit date somewhere, and look at it every day. The anticipation can help you build your determination.

Step 2: Tell the world that you are quitting

Having the public know that you will stop smoking can help to reinforce your determination. So, let your friends and family know about your plan and tell them you need their support and encouragement. Your friends can help distract you from the triggers. Let them know how they can help. Having a quit buddy who wants to stop smoking as well can be a good motivator too. Struggling together will help you cope better. Also, try to spend time with people who have succeeded in giving up smoking and ask for advice. Those small talks will be a good motivator for you.

Step 3: Anticipate the challenge

As the nicotine from cigarettes provides a temporary and addictive high, eliminating it can cause physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings. So, be prepared to face some challenges.

Most people who begin smoking again do so within the first three months. Hence, it is important to occupy yourself with engaging distractions, especially in the first two weeks. If you can get through the first two weeks, your chance of success is much higher. Sign yourself up for fun, low-stress physical activities. It will not only be beneficial for your health but can also take away your negative emotions. Sweating can also boost your sense of well-being and self-control, consequently reducing your impulse to grab a cigarette.

Step 4: Remove smoking triggers

Remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from your home, car, and work. Don’t forget to eliminate your lighters, ashtrays, and matches as well. Having a cigarette trail is not going to help you either. So, wash your clothes and freshen up anything that smells like smoke. Shampoo your car, clean your drapes and carpet, and steam your furniture.

Identify and avoid the things that make you want to smoke, whether it’s a person, a place or a thing. Do not stay with smokers and be in smoking places for too long. These moments can trigger the need to smoke. Instead, spend time with non-smokers or people who have succeeded in quitting smoking.

Step 5: Talk to your doctor or pharmacist

Your doctor can prescribe medication to help with your withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine replacement therapy increases the rate of quitting by 50 to 70%! But it deals only with the physical addiction to nicotine, not the behavioural or psychological addiction to smoking. So some sort of smoking cessation program and strategy is still important.

If you can’t see a doctor, you can get many products over the counter at your local pharmacy, including nicotine patches, lozenges, and gum. Consult your pharmacist for the right product option.

Keep in mind that quitting smoking is a constant battle with yourself. Therefore, celebrate every day that goes by without you taking a cigarette. Award yourself for all the little milestones you have reached. Now that you are no longer spending money on cigarettes, pamper yourself with other indulgences that interest you. Remember, you are stronger than your smoking urge. –


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