How to Avoid Smoking

Three Methods:How to Quit SmokingHow to Keep from Starting AgainHow to Never Start Smoking

Perhaps you're addicted to cigarettes and you're trying to quit. Perhaps you don't want to get addicted to cigarettes, but you're constantly surrounded by people who are smoking. Either way, it's hard to avoid smoking, especially when there's a social element. You will need to come up with good reasons not to smoke, and you will need to stick to your principles--even if other people don't respect your choice. It will get a little bit easier with each cigarette that you don't smoke.

Method 1
How to Quit Smoking

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    Determine why you want to quit. Make a list of all the reasons you want to quit. This will help you clarify your decision to quit. Refer to this list whenever you're tempted to smoke.
    • Consider how smoking affects various important areas of your life: your health, your appearance, your lifestyle, and your loved ones. Ask yourself whether these areas would benefit from you quitting.[1]
    • For example, your list might say something like: I want to quit smoking so I can run and keep up with my son during soccer practice, have more energy, be alive to see my youngest grandchild get married, and save money.
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    Quit cold turkey. Throw away your cigarettes. Wash your bedding and clothes to get rid of cigarette smells. Dispose of any ashtrays, cigarettes, and lighters that are hanging around your house. Make a commitment to yourself: you will not smoke another cigarette.
    • Remind yourself of your plan and carry a written version with you, or keep it on your phone. You may also want to re-read the list of reasons why you want to quit.
    • If you aren't prepared to quit cold-turkey, consider tapering off gradually. Fewer cigarettes are still (somewhat) better for you than more cigarettes. Some people find that they can only quit if they do it all at once, but others have found success through a gradual taper. Be honest with yourself: what is going to work?
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    Be prepared for nicotine-withdrawal symptoms. Cigarettes are highly effective at delivering nicotine throughout your body. When you stop smoking, you might experience increased cravings, anxiety, depression, headaches, feeling tense or restless, increased appetite and weight gain, and problems concentrating.
    • Realize that it may take more than one attempt to stop smoking. About 45 million Americans use some form of nicotine, and only 5 percent of users are able to quit on their first try.[2]
    • Try to avoid relapsing as much as possible. But if you do, recommit as soon as you can to quitting smoking. Learn from your experience and try to cope better in the future.
    • If you have a relapse and smoke for an entire day, be sure to be gentle and forgiving with yourself. Accept that the day was tough, remind yourself that quitting is a long, hard journey, and get back on your plan the next day.
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    Ask for support. Your family and friends can help you stick to your commitment. Let them know your goal, and ask them to help you by not smoking around you or offering you a cigarette. Ask for their support and encouragement. Ask them to remind you of your specific goals when temptation is difficult.
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    Know your triggers. Many people find that certain situations trigger the desire to smoke. You might want a cigarette with your cup of coffee, for instance, or you might want to smoke when you're trying to solve a problem at work. Identify places where it may be difficult not to smoke, and have a plan for what you'll do in those specific places. If possible, avoid those places.
    • Practice an automatic response for a cigarette offer: “No thank you, but I will have another tea” or “No thanks–I'm trying to quit.”
    • Control stress. Stress can be a pitfall when trying to quit smoking. Use techniques such as deep breathing, exercise, and down time to help thwart stress. Make sure to get plenty of sleep, since this will help lower your stress.
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    Download a quit-smoking app.[3] There are various iPhone and Android apps that are designed specifically to keep you from smoking. These apps provide a platform to help you track your cravings and moods, identify your smoking triggers, record your progress toward achieving your goals, and stay strong in stressful times. Search for "quit-smoking apps", read descriptions and reviews, and choose a program that meets your needs.[4]
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    Consider using e-cigarettes. Recent studies have suggested that using e-cigarettes while you quit smoking can help you reduce or quit smoking. Other studies recommend caution when using e-cigarettes since the amount of nicotine varies, the same chemicals as those in cigarettes are still being delivered, and they may re-activate the habit of smoking.[5]
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    Consider getting professional help. Behavioral therapy combined with medication therapy can improve your chances of successfully quitting. If you've tried quitting on your own and are still struggling, think about getting professional help. Your doctor can talk to you about medication therapy.[6]
    • Therapists can also help you through the process of quitting. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help change your thoughts and attitudes about smoking. Therapists can also teach coping skills or new ways to think about quitting.
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    Take Bupropion. This medication doesn't actually have nicotine, but it does help reduce the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Bupropion could increase your chances of staying away from cigarettes by 69 percent.
    • Usually, you'll want to start taking bupropion 1 to 2 weeks before you stop smoking. It's normally prescribed in one or two 150mg tablets per day.
    • Side effects include: dry mouth, difficulty sleeping, agitation, irritability, tiredness, indigestion and headaches.
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    Use Chantix. This medication curbs nicotine receptors in the brain, which makes smoking less pleasurable. It also reduces withdrawal symptoms. You should start taking Chantix one week before quitting. Be sure to take it with meals. Take Chantix for 12 weeks, and it could double your chances of quitting.[7]
    • Your doctor will have you increase your dose over time. For example, you'll take one 0.5mg pill for days 1-3. Then you'll take one 0.5mg pill twice a day for days 4-7. You'll take one 1 mg pill twice per day after that.
    • Side effects include: headaches, nausea, vomiting, trouble sleeping, unusual dreams, gas, and changes in taste.
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    Try nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). NRT includes all types of patches, gums, lozenges, nasal sprays, inhalers, or sublingual tablets that deliver nicotine into the body. You don't need a prescription for NRT and it can reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. NRT could increase your chances of quitting by 60 percent.
    • Side effects of NRT include: nightmares, insomnia, and skin irritation for patches; mouth soreness, difficult breathing, hiccups, and jaw pain for gum; mouth and throat irritation and coughing for nicotine inhalers; throat irritation and hiccups for nicotine lozenge; and throat and nasal irritation as well as runny nose if the nasal spray is used.

Method 2
How to Keep from Starting Again

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    Consider asking for help. Whether you're trying to quit smoking, or trying to keep from developing a habit, you might need to ask a parent or sibling, a teacher, or a non-smoking friend to help keep you in check. Ask this person to keep an eye on you and tell you if you're engaging in dangerous behavior. Ask if you can message or call this person in the event that you're having trouble resisting peer pressure. Don't be afraid to actually use this resource: smoking is highly addictive, and you might need all the help that you can get.
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    Consider spending more time with friends who don't smoke. If you are really serious about avoiding a smoking habit, then you might want to avoid people who habitually smoke. You can always keep saying no, but you will still run the risk of inhaling secondhand smoke as long as you spend time with smokers. If you don't want to cut these people out of your life, try stepping away from them when they smoke--or asking them to take their cigarettes outside.
    • When you breathe secondhand smoke, you ingest all of the toxic, cancer-causing chemicals that waft into the air when cigarettes burn. You can inhale secondhand smoke by breathing "mainstream smoke" (the smoke that smokers exhale) as well as "sidestream smoke" (the smoke from the lighted end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar).[8]
    • If you get used to being around people that smoke, you may gradually lighten up your attitude toward smoking--and you may be more likely to relapse. If you're constantly listening to people tell you that smoking is okay, your perspective may begin to sway.
    • It isn't easy to leave friends behind, but it may be the right choice if you want to put your health first. Be honest with your friends. Say, "I'm not comfortable with you guys pressuring me to smoke, and I'm afraid that if I keep hanging out with you I might actually start smoking. I'm going to take some time to get my priorities straight."
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    Don't keep cigarettes around. Get rid of any un-smoked cigarettes that you own, and don't buy any new cigarettes. As long as you keep cigarettes around, you are acknowledging that smoking is a possibility. When you get rid of your cigarettes, you go a long way toward removing yourself from the possibility, and you make smoking much easier to avoid.
    • It may be tempting to tell yourself, "I'll just smoke the rest of this pack, so that it doesn't go to waste, and then I won't buy any more. I'll quit once I finish these cigarettes." Some people may be able to follow through with this sort of plan, but it's safest not to tempt yourself. The "just one more pack" mentality can stretch into years of continued smoking.
    • You can throw the whole pack away for dramatic effect, or you can give the cigarettes away to someone else if you're uncomfortable with the waste. The important thing is that you get the smokes away from yourself as soon as possible.
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    Distract your mind with productive activities. Develop habits and hobbies that reinforce your commitment to avoiding smoking, and try to involve yourself in communities that actively discourage smoking. Whenever you get the urge to smoke, channel that energy into something else: go to the gym, or pick up an instrument, or take a walk to clear your head. It's easy to let smoking a cigarette become your first impulse--so try to break this habit.
    • Build a regular exercise routine, whether you're running, hiking, playing sports, or going to the gym. The more work you put into your health and physical fitness, the less likely you will be to want to tear it down.
    • Join a hiking group, a sports team, or any group of active, outdoorsy people. Many active groups hold a stigma against smoking, especially during the group activities--so you can use this stigma to keep yourself from getting tempted to smoke.

Method 3
How to Never Start Smoking

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    Just say no. If you spend time around people who smoke, there's a good chance that they'll offer you a cigarette at some point. If you don't want to smoke, just say so, and most people will respect you for sticking to your principles. If anyone tries to pressure you into smoking, don't give them any consideration--just keep saying no, and they'll eventually stop bothering you.
    • If people don't respect your decision to avoid smoking, chances are that on some level they're jealous of your discipline. They may try to convince you to try it: "One little cigarette won't kill you..." If you're really interested in trying a cigarette, it's okay to experiment and figure out what you do and don't enjoy--but don't light one up just because you think people will judge you otherwise.
    • Some people are able to smoke the occasional cigarette without letting the habit spiral into a full-blown, pack-a-day addiction, but it's hard to tell which type of smoker you'll be without actually dancing with addiction. If you have an addictive personality--if you have trouble controlling your consumption of things like soda, coffee, alcohol, or sweets--there's a good chance that this will extend to smoking.[9]
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    Avoid secondhand smoke. Sidestream smoke--the smoke that wafts from the burning tip of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar--has higher concentrations of toxic, cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) than the "mainstream smoke" that smokers inhale. Secondhand smoke can be nearly, if not equally, as bad for your health as smoking. What's more, if you're trying to quit, the sight of other people smoking might sorely tempt you. If you have friends or family who smoke, and you don't want to cut them out of your life, politely ask them to go outside or step away from you when they smoke.
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    Read about the dangers of smoking. Constantly remind yourself how harmful a smoking habit can be, and you may find that the research reinforces your resolve to avoid smoking. Quitting smoking can add years to your life, and it greatly reduces your risk for various smoking-related diseases.[10] Consider passing the information along to friends and loved ones who habitually smoke--but don't preach, merely aim to inform.
    • Cigarettes contain carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals, and when you smoke, you inhale those chemicals directly into your body. Most cases of lung cancer stem from habitual smoking.
    • Smoking causes strokes and coronary heart disease, which are the leading causes of death in the United States. Even people who smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day can show early signs of cardiovascular disease.[11]
    • Smoking causes most cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. If you have asthma, tobacco can trigger an attack and make your symptoms worse.

Article Info

Categories: Addictions | Smoking Addictions