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Preparing to quit smoking

Kicking the habit: a guide to smoking cessation
Motivating patients to quit smoking is one of the greatest challenges in health care. A healthy lifestyle includes NOT smoking cigarettes.

Smoking cessation is not easy. Statistically, 70-90 percent of all smokers wish to quit and are well aware of the consequences of smoking. Nicotine is a drug that causes physical dependence. It has been shown that changes occur in the brain chemical receptors that make you need and crave nicotine. Think of how many years it has taken to develop these chemical receptors to nicotine. You cannot expect yourself to be able to quit magically without it being uncomfortable.

Be easy on yourself! It's not all your fault that you haven't quit yet. Much of the data regarding the addiction of nicotine has been withheld or minimized by tobacco companies. Before you begin a smoking cessation program:

  • Admit that you enjoy smoking.
  • Admit that you can't give up smoking easily.
  • Admit not quitting earlier is not totally your fault.
  • Admit you need help.
  • Admit you need a plan.

The following information will help you develop a quitting plan. Talk to your physician if you have further questions. GOOD LUCK. YOU CAN DO IT. Smoking cessation is the best thing you can do for you and your family's health.

Good preparation
The following exercises are designed to raise your consciousness about your smoking habit. If you can, try some or all of them before you establish your quit date:

  1. Start a butt bottle
    During the week before your quit date, collect all of your cigarette butts in one large glass container as a visual reminder of the filth that smoking represents. Keep one jar on your desk at work and another collection jar at home. Take a sniff once in a while. After a few days, the "butt bottles" start to disgust even the hard-core smoker.

  2. Empty your ashtrays once a day
    Allow the number of butts to build up in your ashtray during the day to make you more conscious of the number of cigarettes you are smoking.

  3. Think about why you like smoking
    Do you smoke because you like the stimulation it gives you, for pleasurable relaxation, because you feel the need to have something in your hands, to reduce tension, because of habit or because of physical addiction?

  4. Calculate how much the smoking habit has cost you
    Write down how many packs of cigarettes you smoke per day and multiply that cost by 365 days to find out how much you could save in a year. Now multiply that by how many years you have smoked to see what the habit has cost you over the years.

  5. Keep track of every cigarette you smoke
    Wrap a sheet of notepaper around your pack of cigarettes. Each time you light up a cigarette, mark the paper with the time and the reason why you wanted to smoke it. When you quit, you'll have to find something else to do in place of every cigarette you now smoke. You may notice that certain times of day will be more difficult for you.

  6. Make it harder on yourself to smoke
  • Buy cigarettes one pack at a time. Wait until the pack is empty before buying another.
  • Switch brands frequently. Try one lower in tar, carbon monoxide and nicotine. The week before you quit, switch to a brand you don't particularly enjoy.
  • Keep your cigarettes in an inconvenient or unfamiliar place to break that automatic "reach."
  • Don't carry matches or a lighter. You'll have to ask others for a light and this in itself can help you cut down.
  • Smoke less of each cigarette. Mark them at the halfway point and put them out before you reach it.
  • Start smoking later and quit smoking earlier each day.
  • When the urge to smoke hits, wait five or ten minutes before lighting up.
  • Limit the number of places you will allow yourself to smoke. For example, make it "off limits" to smoke in the car, while watching television, at the dinner table, etc. Sit in the non-smoking section when you go out to eat.

  1. Make a list of all the reasons why you want to quit
    Post a few on the bathroom mirror, by the coffee pot, on your car dashboard, etc. Every night before going to bed, repeat one of the reasons 10 times.

  2. Think positively about your decision to quit smoking
    There are two attitudes you can take about quitting. One is that quitting is an exercise in self-denial. Losing cigarettes is like losing a best friend. This is a negative and self-defeating way of thinking that can make it more difficult for you to achieve your goal. The second attitude is that quitting is an exercise in self-mastery, an opportunity to grow and develop more positive, constructive behaviors. You need to view quitting as a positive achievement, a return to the freedom of not being addicted to something which can cause disease, disability and death.

  3. Set a target date for quitting
    Select a time that will be less stressful than usual for you, possibly a weekend or during a vacation when you can devote your full attention to your own needs. Make the date sacred and don't let anything change it.

Identify the triggers that urge you to smoke
Think about your smoking patterns. Throughout the day, there are events or situations that will urge you to reach for a cigarette (smoking triggers). Here are common triggers:

  1. After a meal
  2. At a party or social engagement
  3. Driving in your car
  4. Talking on the telephone
  5. Watching television
  6. Drinking coffee

Think positively! Keep your head filled with the personal thoughts that make a smoke-free life so good! Your health will be improved. Your family's health may also be improved. You're going to save money. Your personal growth will be enhanced, because you will no longer be hooked on cigarettes.