Health & Wellness December 14, 2017

Kick the Habit: 6 Steps to Quit Smoking and Live a Tobacco-Free Life

Maggie K., Senior Editor

Smoking stinks. Everyone knows this. It’s bad for every organ in the body and is the leading cause of lung cancer. Yet, tobacco use in the U.S. is still responsible for 480,000 deaths each year. In fact, smokers die about 10 years earlier than nonsmokers.

That’s why it’s time for leaders and health care providers to take charge and help clear the air of cigarette stink! Enhance and encourage smoking-cessation efforts in your community so your citizens or patients can be healthy, feel good and live longer.

6-Step Quit Smoking Plan

When you quit smoking, your body begins to heal within 20 minutes of your last cigarette. Over time, you will greatly lower your risk of death from:

  • Heart disease.
  • Chronic bronchitis.
  • At least 13 kinds of cancer, including lung cancer.

Ready to get started?

Step 1: Set a Quit Date

Pick a date within the next two weeks to quit smoking. This will give you enough time to prepare.

Step 2: Identify Your Smoking Triggers

Triggers are cues or signals that increase your thoughts or urges to smoke (e.g., finishing a meal, drinking a cup of coffee). Learn to recognize your personal triggers and counter them with alternative associations.

Step 3: Tell Your Family and Friends

Quitting smoking is easier when the people in your life support you. Explain how they can help you quit, for example:

  • Ask them to check in with you to see how things are going.
  • Do smoke-free activities together, such as going to the movies or a nice restaurant.

quit smoking tobacco If you need extra support quitting, call your State Quitline at: 800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669)

Step 4: Plan for Challenges

The first few weeks of quitting will be the hardest. You will feel uncomfortable (e.g., cranky, frustrated, anxious) and tempted to smoke, and you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms and intense cigarette cravings. An important part of preparing to quit is anticipating these challenges and planning ahead of time how you will deal with them.

Step 5: Get Rid of Smoking Reminders

To fight the urge to smoke, remove everything that reminds you of smoking.

  • Throw away all your cigarettes and matches/lighters.
  • Don’t save one pack of cigarettes “just in case.”
  • Remove the smell of cigarettes at work‚ in your car and at home. Clean your drapes and clothes. Shampoo your car.
  • Have your dentist remove smoking stains from your teeth.

Step 6: Quit with Extra Help

Talk to your doctor about other support options; he or she can answer your questions, give advice and tell you where to get help. Medications, such as the nicotine patch, gum or lozenge, are also effective quit options.

Stop Blowing Smoke

Quitting smoking requires a lot of hard work, commitment and intense dedication. It may take a person a few tries before successfully becoming a nonsmoker. But with some extra guidance, support and education from community leaders or health care providers, anyone who truly sets their mind to it can watch their bad tobacco habit go up in smoke.

 For more information on the various products available to purchase for your community, browse the QuickSeries® library of health guides, including Freedom from Tobacco: Be Smoke-Free!