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We know that you already know all the reasons why you should quit smoking (if not, check out Why to Quit), but do you have any idea how to go about doing it? There is no right or wrong way for quitting smoking, but there are four main steps which will increase your chances of success:
The decision to quit smoking is one that only you can make. The Stages of Change Model identifies the stages that a person goes through in making a change in behavior. Here are the stages as they apply to quitting smoking:
|This stage includes smokers who are not thinking seriously about quitting right now. If this is you, check out WebMD's answers to the question Why Quit?|
|In this stage, the smoker is actively thinking about quitting but is not quite ready to make a serious attempt. This person may say, "Yes, I'm ready to quit, but the stress of school is too much/I don't want to gain weight/I'm not sure if I can do it."|
|Smokers in the preparation stage seriously intend to quit in the next month and often have tried to quit in the past 12 months. They usually have a plan.|
|Action||This is the first 6 months when the smoker is actively quitting.|
|This is the period of 6 months to 5 years after quitting when the ex-smoker is aware of the danger of relapse and take steps to avoid it.|
Selecting a quit date is a very important step! Choose a specific day within the next month as your Quit Day--picking a date too far in the future allows you time to rationalize and change your mind, but do give yourself enough time to prepare and come up with a plan. Once you decide on a date, circle it in your planner and make a strong, personal commitment to quit on that day.
|Cold Turkey||Going cold turkey means stopping abruptly and totally. To quit cold turkey, you can either smoke as usual until your quit day and then stop all at once or you can smoke fewer cigarettes for a week or two before your quit day.|
|Gradual Withdrawal||Gradual withdrawal involves cutting down on the number of cigarettes smoked each day. For example, you might cut out cigarettes smoked after meals, or you might decide to smoke only at certain times of the day. You can also taper down by cutting out 1-2 cigarettes per day until your quit day.|
Withdrawal from nicotine has two parts, the physical and the psychological. The physical symptoms, while annoying, are not life threatening. Nicotine replacement can help reduce many of these physical symptoms. But most smokers find that the bigger challenge is the psychological part of quitting.
If you have been smoking for any length of time, smoking has become linked with nearly everything you do--waking up in the morning, eating, reading, watching TV, drinking coffee, etc.--and thus it will take time to "unlink" smoking from these activities. One way to overcome these urges or cravings is to identify rationalizations as they come up. A rationalization is a mistaken belief that seems to make sense at the time but is not based on facts. If you have tried to quit before, you will probably recognize many of these common rationalizations.
You probably can add more to the list. As you go through the first few days without smoking, write down any rationalizations as they come up and recognize them for what they are: messages that can trap you into going back to smoking. Use the Quitting Tips section below to help you keep your commitment to quitting.
You can use the same methods to stay quit as you did to help you through withdrawal. Think ahead to those times when you may be tempted to smoke, and plan on how you will use alternatives and activities to cope with these situations. More dangerous, perhaps, are the unexpected strong desires to smoke that occur, sometimes months (or even years) after you've quit. To get through these without relapse, try the following:
What if you do smoke? Don't despair--one cigarette is not a relapse! The difference between a slip and a relapse is within your control. You can use the slip as an excuse to go back to smoking, OR, you can look at what went wrong and renew your commitment to staying off smoking for good.
More than two-thirds of all college graduates who have ever smoked have now quit--you can too! Say to yourself: I can be a NON-SMOKER.
|TobaccoFreeU.org||Designed for college students (sponsored by the BACCHUS and GAMMA network). Includes a discussion board, educational materials, quitting tips, and information on secondhand smoke.|
|NYS Smoker's Quitline||Also has a toll-free number, 1-888-609-6292.|
|GottaQuit.com||Includes stories of local Rochester-area teens.|
|Quit Smoking Journals.com||Huge grassroots site providing support from others in all stages of quitting.|
|New Jersey Quit Net||Allows you to develop a personalized quitting plan; also available in Spanish.|
|trytostop.org||Offers expert advice, motivational emails, free postcards and other downloads, and a "Quit Wizard."|
|WhyQuit.com||Joining Freedom from Tobacco provides additional resources, including an online support group.|
|The Great American Smokeout||Resources for quitting on the day of the annual Great American Smokeout, held on the third Thursday of November each year.|
|BobQuits.com||Follow the story of Bob, a real person in his 30s, as he attempts to quit smoking.|
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