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This page 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.

On this page, 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 on this page 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.