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Clearing the Air: How to Quit Smoking - Quit Smoking Permanently

Withdrawal Symptoms and Activities That Might Help*

Dry mouth; sore throat, gums, or tongue Sip ice-cold water or fruit juice, or chew gum.
Headaches Take a warm bath or shower. Try relaxation or meditation techniques.
Trouble sleeping Don't drink coffee, tea or soda with caffeine after 6:00 p.m. Again, try relaxation or meditation techniques.
Irregularity Add roughage to your diet, such as raw fruit, vegetables, and whole grain cereals. Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day.
Fatigue Take a nap. Try not to push yourself during this time; don't expect too much of your body until it's had a chance to begin to heal itself over a couple of weeks.
Hunger Drink water or low-calorie liquids. Eat low-fat, low-calorie snacks. See Snack Calorie Chart.
Tenseness, irritability Take a walk, soak in a hot bath, try relaxation or meditation techniques.
Coughing Sip warm herbal tea. Suck on cough drops or sugarless hard candy.

Adapted from Quitting Times: A Magazine for Women Who Smoke, funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Health; prepared by Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia.

Quitting for Keeps:


Now you are ready to develop a new habit–not smoking. Like any other habit, it takes time to become a part of you; unlike most other habits, though, not smoking will take some conscious effort and practice. This section of the booklet can be a big help. You will find many techniques to use for developing the nonsmoking habit and holding on to it.

By reading this section of the booklet carefully and reviewing it often, you'll become more aware of the places and situations that prompt the desire for a cigarette. You will also learn about many nonsmoking ways to deal with the urge to smoke. These are called coping skills. Finally, you will learn what to do in case you do slip and give in to the smoking urge.

Keep Your Guard Up

The key to living as a nonsmoker is to avoid letting your urges or cravings for a cigarette lead you to smoke. Don't kid yourself–although you have made a commitment not to smoke, you will sometimes be tempted. But instead of giving in to the urge, you can use it as a learning experience.

First, remind yourself that you have quit and you are a nonsmoker. Then look closely at your urge to smoke and ask yourself:
  • Where was I when I got the urge?

  • What was I doing at the time?

  • Whom was I with?

  • What was I thinking?

The urge to smoke after you've quit often hits at predictable times. The trick is to anticipate those times and find ways to cope with them–without smoking. Naturally, it won't be easy at first. In fact, you may continue to want a cigarette at times. But remember, even if you slip, it doesn't mean an end to the nonsmoking you. It does mean that you should try to identify what triggered your slip, strengthen your commitment to quitting, and try again.

Look at the following list of typical triggers. Does any of them ring a bell with you? Check off those that might trigger and urge to smoke, and add any others you can think of:
  • Working under pressure

  • Feeling blue

  • Talking on the telephone

  • Having a drink

  • Watching television

  • Driving your car

  • Finishing a meal

  • Playing cards

  • Drinking coffee

  • Watching someone else smoke
If you are like many new nonsmokers, the most difficult place to resist the urge to smoke is the most familiar: home. The activities most closely associated with smoking urges are eating, partying, and drinking. And, not surprisingly, most urges occur when a smoker is present.

How to Dampen That Urge

There are seven major coping skills to help you fight that urge to smoke.
These tips are designed for you, the new nonsmoker, to help you nurture the nonsmoking habit.

1. Think about why you quit

Go back to your list of reasons for quitting. Look at this list several times a day–especially when you are hit with the urge to smoke. The best reasons you could have for quitting are very personally yours, and these are also the best reasons to stay a nonsmoker.

2. Know when you are rationalizing

It is easy to rationalize yourself back into smoking (see Common Rationalizations). Don't talk yourself into smoking again. A new nonsmoker in a tense situation may think, "I'll just have one cigarette to calm myself down." If thoughts like this pop into your head, stop and think again! You know better ways to relax– nonsmokers ways, such as taking a walk or doing breathing exercises.

Concern about gaining weight may also lead to rationalizations. Learn to counter thoughts such as, "I'd rather be thin, even if it means smoking." Remember that a slight weight gain is not likely to endanger your health as much as smoking would. (Cigarette smokers have about a 70-percent higher rate of premature death than nonsmokers.) And review the list of healthy, low-calorie snacks that you used when quitting.

3. Anticipate Triggers and Prepare to Avoid Them

By now you know which situations, people, and feelings are likely to tempt you to smoke. Be prepared to meet these triggers head on and counteract them. Keep using the skills that helped you cope in cutting down and quitting:
  • Keep your hands busy–doodle, knit, type a letter.

  • Avoid people who smoke; spend more time with nonsmoking friends.

  • Find activities that make smoking difficult (gardening, washing the car, taking a shower). Exercise to help knock out that urge; it will help you to feel and look good as well.

  • Put something other than a cigarette in your mouth. Chew sugarless gum or nibble on a carrot or celery stick.

  • Avoid places where smoking is permitted. Sit in the nonsmoking section of restaurants, trains, and planes.

  • Reduce your consumption of alcohol, which often stimulates the desire to smoke. Try to have no more than one or two drinks at a party. Better yet, have a glass of juice, soda, or mineral water.

4. Reward yourself for not smoking

Congratulations are in order each time you get through a day without smoking. After a week, give yourself a pat on the back and a reward of some kind. Buy a new record or treat yourself to a movie or concert. No matter how you do it, make sure you reward yourself in some way. It helps to remind yourself that what you are doing is important.

5. Use positive thoughts

If self-defeating thoughts start to creep in, remind yourself again that you are a nonsmoker, that you do not want to smoke, and that you have good reasons for it. Putting yourself down and trying to hold out using willpower alone are not effective coping techniques. Mobilize the power of positive thinking!

6. Use relaxation techniques

Breathing exercises help to reduce tension. Instead of having a cigarette, take a long deep breath, count to 10, and release it. Repeat this 5 times. See how much more relaxed you feel?

7. Get social support

The commitment to remain a nonsmoker can be made easier by talking about it with friends and relatives. They can congratulate you as you check off another day, week, and month as a nonsmoker. Tell the people close to you that you might be tense for a while, so they know what to expect. They'll be sympathetic when you have an urge to smoke and can be counted on to help you resist it. Remember to call on your friends when you are lonely or you feel an urge to smoke. A buddy system is a great technique.
How to Quit Smoking - Quit Smoking Permanently

Table of Contents:

Preparing Yourself for Quitting
    Knowing What to Expect
    Involving Someone Else
Ways of Quitting
Just Before Quitting
    On the Day You Quit
Immediately After Quitting
Snack Calorie Chart
Withdrawal Symptoms and Activities that Might Help
Quitting for Keeps
    Keep Your Guard Up
How to Dampen That Urge
Not Smoking is Habit-Forming
    Relapse: If You Smoke Again
    Marking Progress
Common Rationalizations
For Further Information

Non Smoking Is Habit Forming

Good for you! You have made a commitment not to smoke, and by using this booklet, you know what to do if you are tempted to forget that commitment. It is difficult to stay a nonsmoker once you have had a cigarette, so do everything possible to avoid it.

If you follow the advice in this booklet and use at least one coping skill whenever you have an urge to smoke, you will have quit for keeps!

Relapse: If You Do Smoke Again

If you slip and smoke, don't be discouraged. Many former smokers tried to stop several times before they finally succeeded. Here's what you should do:
  • Recognize that you have had a slip. A slip means that you have had a small setback and smoked a cigarette or two. But your first cigarette did not make you a smoker to start with, and a small setback does not make you a smoker again.

  • Don't be too hard on yourself. One slip doesn't mean you're a failure or that you can't be a nonsmoker, but it is important to get yourself back on the nonsmoking track immediately.

  • Identify the trigger: Exactly what was it that prompted you to smoke? Be aware of the trigger and decide now how you will cope with it when it comes up again.

  • Know and use the coping skills described above. People who know at least one coping skill are more likely to remain nonsmokers than those who do not know any.

  • Sign a contract with yourself to remain a nonsmoker.

  • If you think you need professional help, see your doctor. He or she can provide extra motivation for you to stop smoking. Your doctor may also prescribe nicotine gum or a nicotine patch as an alternative source of nicotine while you break the habit of smoking.

Marking Progress

  • Each month, on the anniversary of your quit date, plan a special celebration.

  • Periodically, write down new reasons you are glad you quit, and post these reasons where you will be sure to see them.

  • Make up a calendar for the first 90 days. Cross off each day and indicate the money you saved by not smoking.

  • Set other, intermediate target dates, and do something special with the money you have saved.
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