Once you’ve made a decision to quit, you’re ready to pick a quit date. This is a very important step. Pick a specific day within the next month as your “Quit Day.” Picking a date too far in the future allows you time to rationalize and change your mind. But do give yourself enough time to prepare and come up with a plan. You might choose a date with a special meaning like a birthday or anniversary, or the date of the Great American Smokeout (the third Thursday in November each year). Or you may want to simply pick a random date. Circle the date on your calendar. Make a strong, personal commitment to quit on that day.
There is no one right way to quit. Most smokers prefer to quit “cold turkey” – that is abruptly and totally. They smoke until their Quit Day and then stop all at once, or they may smoke fewer cigarettes for a week or 2 before their Quit Day. Another way involves cutting down on the number of cigarettes smoked each day. With this method, you gradually reduce the amount of nicotine in your body. You might cut out cigarettes smoked with a cup of coffee, or you might decide to smoke only at certain times of the day. While it sounds logical to cut down in order to quit gradually, in practice this method is difficult.
Quitting smoking is a lot like losing weight; it takes a strong commitment over a long period of time. Smokers may wish there was a magic bullet – a pill or method that would make quitting painless and easy. But that is not the case. Nicotine substitutes can help reduce withdrawal symptoms, but they are most effective when used as part of a stop smoking plan that addresses both the physical and psychological components of quitting smoking.
Some tips to help you prepare for your Quit Day:
- Pick the date and mark it on your calendar
- Tell friends and family of your Quit Day
- Get rid of all the cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car and place of work.
- Stop up on oral substitutes – sugarless gum, carrot sticks, and/or hard candy.
- Decide on a plan. Will you use Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) or other medicines? Will you attend a stop smoking class? If so, sign up now.
- Practice saying, “No thank you, I don’t smoke.”
- Set up a support system. This could be a group class, Nicotine Anonymous, or a friend or family member who has successfully quit and is willing to help you. Ask family and friends who still smoke not to smoke around you or leave cigarettes out where you can see them.
- Think back to your past attempts to quit. Try to analyze what worked and what did not work for you.
Successful quitting is a matter of planning and commitment, not luck. Decide now on your own plan. On your Quit Day, follow these suggestions:
- Do not smoke. This means at all – not even one puff!
- Keep active – try walking, exercising, or doing other activities or hobbies
- Drink lots of water and juices
- Begin using nicotine replacement if that is your choice
- Attend stop smoking class or start following a self-help plan
- Avoid situations where the urge to smoke is strong
- Reduce or avoid alcohol
- Think about changing your routine. Use a different route to work; drink tea instead of coffee; eat breakfast in a different place or eat different foods