Happy couple sitting with counselor

Quitting is one of the hardest things for a smoker to do. The fact that so many people openly acknowledge the risks and detriments to their health, yet continue to smoke, illustrates just how difficult the battle can be. Smoking kills more than 430,000 people each year,1 and when it’s not fatal, it can cause devastating illnesses.

The first step on the path to quitting is figuring out why you smoke. Once you know what prompts you, you can start finding alternative behaviors that accomplish the same things. Here are a few examples of healthy behaviors you can choose instead of smoking:

I use tobacco to: I choose to:

Relieve stress—especially when I feel angry or upset.

Relieve stress with exercise.

Control my weight. I’m afraid I’ll gain weight if I quit.

Control my weight with exercise and healthy foods.

Boost my energy when I am feeling sluggish.

Boost my energy with exercise and healthy foods.

Be part of a group—I join my friends in having a cigarette.

Join a club or a team; find a hobby that gives me a healthy social outlet.

Besides understanding your own motivations and choosing healthier alternatives to satisfy those motivations, there are other techniques you can use to help you quit.

5 keys to quitting

  1. Get ready — Set a quit date and stick to it. People who don’t smoke at all on their quit dates are 10 times more likely not to be smoking in 6 months. Get rid of all tobacco products in your home, car or workplace. Don’t let people use tobacco in your home.
  2. Get support — You have a better chance of quitting if you have help from your doctor, family, friends and coworkers. Ask them not to use tobacco around you. Get individual, group or telephone counseling. If you have access to a wellness program, consider talking to a health coach.
  3. Learn new skills and behaviors – If stress is causing you to use tobacco, try exercising, taking a hot bath, reading a book, or drinking a lot of water. A hobby can also help lower stress.
  4. Get and use medication – There are FDA-approved medications to help you quit smoking—bupropion SR, nicotine gum, nicotine inhaler, nicotine nasal spray, nicotine patch. Check what support resources are available through your employer benefits plan to see if they are covered. According to tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, your chances of quitting double when you use any of these.
  5. Be prepared for relapse – Most people aren’t successful the first several times they try to quit. If you do have a relapse, make a list of the things you learned, and then set a date to quit again. 2 things that can help you stay on track: give up drinking alcohol, and avoid spending time with other people who use tobacco.

Source:

  1. “Smoking & Tobacco Use,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed December 31, 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/ , opens new window