Smoking Cessation Tips

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

As New Year’s resolutions are still fresh, now is probably the best time for healthcare professionals to urge their patients and clients to do whatever they can to stick with their resolutions.

Smoking cessation is one of the biggest New Year’s resolutions made each year, and Dr. Kevin Scott Ferentz, M.D., associate professor of family and community medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, offers tips PCPs and other healthcare professionals can offer to help their clients quit.

  • Put it in writing. Write down your reasons for quitting on 3 X 5-inch index cards so you can refer to them when you are tempted to smoke.
  • Explore your motives for smoking. Keep a journal before you quit to document your feelings about your habit. You want to include details about where you smoke most often, when you smoke, with whom and why. Review your diary after four or five days to identify feelings and circumstances that trigger your cravings for nicotine.
  • Modify your behavior. Write down your “triggers” on the left side of a piece of paper and on the right side, jot down how you plan to either avoid or cope with those situations or feelings that send you reaching for nicotine.
  • Reduce the pleasure quotient. Most people have favorite brands of cigarettes. In the week or so leading up to your quit date, ditch your favorites for other, less-appealing varieties. For example, buy menthols if you normally don’t smoke them. Buy low-tar filters or light versions of your favorite brand or try new, unusual brands that you’ve never smoked before.
  • Spread the news. Tell everyone you know you’re quitting to develop a network of family members, co-workers and friends who can support your efforts.
  • Get rid of smoking paraphernalia. Throw out all of your ashtrays, matches and lighters.
  • Go cold turkey. Despite an urge to gradually cut back, stopping completely on your chosen quit date is the best approach to kicking the habit for good.
  • Reward yourself. Come up with reasons to celebrate your quitting at regular intervals. For example, a week after you quit, go to the movies or bowling. A month after quitting, go to a nice hotel for an evening or treat yourself to a shopping spree. A year after quitting, go on a nice vacation with the money you save from no longer buying packs of cigarettes.
  • If you relapse, don’t panic. Identify what it was that triggered your desire to smoke again and come up with a way to cope with the trigger. The urge to smoke — no matter how overwhelming — will pass after a few minutes, whether or not you give into it.
  • Seek help. If you aren’t able to quit on your own, try using aids such as nicotine gum or the nicotine patch. If you still aren’t able to quit, see your doctor about other options. You may also want to join a support group. Whatever you do, don’t give up!
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