How to Stay Away from Cigarettes

Three Parts:Quitting CigarettesSticking With Your PlanStaying Away for Good

Quitting smoking is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. Since tobacco kills millions of people each year, it’s also one of the most important. Many have found that setting a concrete quit date and and sticking to it brings success, especially with the availability of products like nicotine patches and gum to help along the way. You can give yourself the best possible chance to quit for good by making a plan that’s tailored to your lifestyle and personal goals.

Part 1
Quitting Cigarettes

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    Examine your reasons for quitting. Most people find that just knowing they should quit isn’t enough of a motivation to do so. To quit any type of addiction, it’s necessary to have a rock solid reason that means more to you than smoking cigarettes ever could. Think deeply about why you personally want to quit. In other words, what’s your motivation for living a full, healthy life?
    • Many people can only find the strength to quit when they realize they’re doing it for someone they love. Is your inspiration for quitting the fact that you want to live to see your children or grandchildren grow up, or you want to grow old with your partner?
    • Perhaps the reason is that you don’t want to ruin your own health. Maybe you have a list of things you want to accomplish before you die, like writing a novel or hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
    • If you’re hard up financially, saving money can also serve as a motivation, especially when you consider all the other things you could be spending it on.
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    Set a date to quit. Just thinking to yourself that you’ll quit when you’re ready isn’t going to cut it. You’ll be able to come up with reasons why it’s never quite the right time. Instead, set a date about a month from now and mark it on your calendar. In permanent ink. Giving yourself a little time between now and the quit date will allow you the chance to let it sink in that this is really happening. You’ll be able to anticipate the date and plan ways to successfully quit.
    • Consider picking a meaningful day, like your birthday or Mother’s Day. If the day is especially meaningful it might help you get motivated to quit.
    • Tell people about it. If you tell everyone you know that you’re quitting on your birthday, you’ll be more likely to hold yourself to it.
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    Get rid of your cigarettes and paraphernalia. In the days leading up to your quit date, start getting rid of the stuff that helps support your habit. Toss out all your special papers, your ashtrays, and other items that remind you of smoking. Keeping them around is a sign that you’re not really committed to quitting, since you must assume that you’ll need the items again in the future.
    • Since even the smell of old cigarette smoke can induce cravings, you might want to freshen up your wardrobe and your home as well. Air everything out, wash all your clothes, and get rid of items that hold the smell.
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    Taper off or quit cold turkey. You can either slowly cut back until the day you plan to completely quit, or wait until the date arrives and quit cold turkey. There’s no method proven to be successful, so choose the one that best fits your personality. The important thing is to actually quit on the day you have chosen - no excuses.
    • If you choose to taper off, cut back your habit in the weeks before the date arrives. For example, if you’re a pack a day smoker, taper down to half a pack a day, then just three cigarettes a day, and during the week before your quit date, just one a day. When the day comes, quit.
    • You can also use products like nicotine gum or nicotine patches to help you make the transition to not smoking more easily. Prescription medications that make quitting easier are also available; talk to a physician for more information.
    • If you choose to quit cold turkey, make sure you have a good plan in place for really doing it when the day comes. It might help to make quitting into a bit of an event. Have friends witness you throwing away the last pack of cigarettes, then celebrate by eating a healthy dinner.

Part 2
Sticking With Your Plan

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    Turn to your support system. Quitting cigarettes is very hard work. You’re going to be faced with daily cravings, and you’ll need people you can turn to when it all begins to feel like too much to handle. Talk with the people who are on board with your decision to quit. When you feel the urge to smoke, don’t hesitate to call someone and talk through the craving.
    • Consider seeing a therapist who specializes in helping smokers quit. He or she will have ideas to help you effectively deal with your cravings every day.
    • A support group could also be helpful.
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    Stay away from triggers. You know the habits that tend to make you want to smoke. Maybe you have to light up after having a beer, because the experience just feels right. Maybe you can’t hang out with your buddies from high school without wanting to share a pack of cigarettes like old times. Maybe just being in the vicinity of your favorite concert venue makes you want to cave in to all your bad habits. The solution? Avoid the people, places and situations that stimulate your cravings. Why make things harder on yourself by tempting yourself all the time?
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    Start exercising. It’s hardly controversial to say that smoking has a negative effect on your health. In addition to causing a host of different cancers, it blackens your lungs and makes it difficult to breathe at full capacity. When you smoke, it’s hard to be fit. Start an exercise routine after your quit date. At first it will be difficult to run, swim or hike, but as the weeks go by, you’ll start to get fit again. As you enjoy your healthy body, easily running around when you used to huff and puff after taking one flight of stairs, it’ll become more and more difficult to imagine going back to your old ways.
    • Exercise can also be a great distraction. When your cravings get intense, sometimes the only thing that can help is to distract your body by exerting it. Try lifting weights, doing sprints, playing basketball - anything that gets your heart racing and helps take your mind off the pull toward cigarettes.
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    Chew gum or seeds. The act of lifting a cigarette to the lips and sucking becomes a source of comfort to smokers. Many smokers miss the calmness that comes with this familiar physical act. You can replace the feeling of having a cigarette in your mouth by chewing gum or anise seeds. The strong flavors will help to soothe your cravings, and the chewing motion will provide a sense of comfort.
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    Deal with withdrawal. In the first few weeks after you quit, you may have serious withdrawal symptoms. Headaches, pain, irritability and other symptoms of withdrawal are not uncommon. Many find that drinking a glass of water each time a craving hits is a good way to handle withdrawal. Simple hydration goes a long way toward expelling those toxins from your body and keeping you feeling strong and healthy.
    • Eating healthy food is also a good way to handle withdrawal. Choose nutrient dense foods that make you feel good. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and meat. Your body will feel healthier than ever.
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    Have a stress relief plan. When you’re stressed, you’re going to want a cigarette. Every little situation can end up being a trigger: a phone call you didn’t really want to make, a break between classes during the school day, a traffic jam. It’s important to have a plan in place to relieve stress without using cigarettes.
    • Deep breathing is a quick, effective technique you can use anywhere, any time.
    • Make sure you get plenty of sleep. Being well rested helps to relieve stress.
    • Have sex or masturbate to release endorphins and relieve stress.

Part 3
Staying Away for Good

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    Don’t give in to “just one cigarette.” Smoking one cigarette will lead to another, and then another and then another . . . just don’t do it. When you find yourself about to give in to the common rationalization that just one cigarette isn’t going to hurt, turn back to your reason for quitting. Are you quitting for your child? Smoking just one cigarette will hurt her. Your own health? One cigarette is going to set you back. Just one cigarette could make you wind up going back to your pack a day habit, and then you’ll have to start all over. Don’t throw away everything you’ve accomplished so far.
    • If you do give in? Don’t beat yourself up, but don’t use it as an excuse to indulge further. You’ll probably have worse cravings than before, but you have the strength to overcome them. You quit once, and you can do it again.
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    Focus on what you’re gaining instead of what you’re losing. Having a positive attitude is very important when you’re quitting cigarettes. Your mind may constantly pull you down with negative thoughts about everything you’re giving up, like having a good time with your friends or feeling the sweet rush of smoke after a long day. Focus not on what you’re losing, but what you’re gaining and have already gained. For example:
    • Your health
    • Your family’s respect
    • Money
    • Whiter teeth and fresher breath
    • A cleaner space
    • Clothes that don’t smell
    • Time to spend on anything you want to do besides smoking
    • Freedom from the incessant need to drop whatever you’re doing and have a smoke
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    Keep believing you can do it. During the times when quitting feels impossible, and you just don’t think you can handle going without cigarettes anymore, go back to your calendar. Look at the date you quit. Every day you successfully avoided smoking since then is an accomplishment. You obviously have amazing willpower. You have physical strength. You’ve put your mind and body to the test in a way that no one who hasn’t done it could ever understand. Take pride in what you’ve done, and stay motivated to keep going.


  • Find a personal distraction that works for you, like playing ping pong.
  • Meditate.

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Categories: Smoking Addictions