If you’re like most people, chances are you have already been told of the harmful effects of tobacco use.
But regardless of where you might be today–whether you have a desire to quit or have no intention of cutting down–it’s never too early to think about it…nor is it ever too late to start making a plan to quit smoking.
The purpose of this guide is to equip you with the essential knowledge of creating a personal plan to quit smoking so that if and when you are ready to take the next step, you will have the confidence to know exactly what to do and where to go.
Step 1: Know Your Reasons to Quit Smoking
Identify your reasons for wanting to make your plan to quit smoking (for example, to maximize the benefits of EECP, to save money, to be healthy, etc…)
- Make a list. Take a moment to contemplate all your reasons for quitting and write them down.
- Remind yourself. Keep the list in a visible place and review it every time you have the urge to smoke.
Step 2: Pick Your Date to Quit Smoking
This is very important. When it comes to picking and making a plan to quit smoking, pick a day (within 2-3 weeks is reasonable) that will give you time to adequately prepare to be tobacco-free.
- Choose wisely. Avoid choosing a day where you know you will be stressed, overly busy, or tempted to smoke (e.g., a night out with friends, etc…)
- Circle your quit day on your calendar. Write it out where you can see it constantly so that it will remind you and motivate you to prepare.
Step 3: Tell Someone You are Quitting
Because quitting tobacco is much easier when there is support from your loved ones, it is a good idea to let important people in your life know about your desire to quit and that you have made a plan to quit smoking.
- Be specific. Tell your friends and family what they can do to help (for example, not to smoke in front of you, etc…)
- Focus on those who can help. If a certain friendship only discourages your efforts, don’t be afraid to put yourself first by letting them know or by letting go.
Step 4: Toss Those Lighters
Getting rid of smoking reminders (such as your cigarettes, matches, ashtrays, lighters, etc…) can make a big difference in keeping you on track.
- Throw (or give) them away. Don’t just hide your ashtrays in a drawer. Resist the temptation to save a pack of cigarettes ‘just in case.’
- Freshen it up with Febreze. Even the lingering smell of tobacco in your car or home can trigger cravings.
Step 5: Identify Triggers
As your brain has already linked certain emotions, people, and activities to your smoking, it is important to anticipate these smoking triggers ahead of time and develop ways to deal with them.
- Identify the triggers. Write down everything you can think of that makes you feel like smoking.
- Develop the solutions. Think of ways you can avoid these triggers and how you can deal with them if they are unavoidable. Write them down and keep the list nearby.
Step 6: Prepare Your Armory
As the body starts to adjust to the absence of nicotine in the system, some people will experience withdrawal symptoms. Prepare yourself ahead of time by developing strategies to manage those unpleasant feelings.
- Invest in proper tools. Buy some nicotine gum or patches and have them on your Quit Day.
- Be encouraged. Realize that these symptoms are only temporary and that soon you will be feeling better than you have in a long time.
Step 7: Know Your Resources
Many people are not aware of the storehouse of effective resources available to them at their fingertips. Take a moment now to try out some of them (for example, download the phone app, etc) to see the many things they can offer you.
QuitSTART free phone app: This will help you prepare to quit, provide support, and track your progress. As there are many different apps for this purpose, play around with them to see what works best for you.
SmokefreeTXT: For motivational texts tailored to your needs. Sign up at smokefree.gov/smokefreetxt
Quitlines: Feeling discouraged? Get instant access to a counselor by calling:
- 1–800–QUIT–NOW or
Step 8: Set Your Rewards
Quitting tobacco is hard, so you should be proud of not only your accomplishments, but even the fact that you are making the decision to quit.
- Think of some rewards. Plan out your milestones ahead of time and set up a smokefree reward for each one.
- Take it a minute/an hour/a day at a time and reward yourself throughout the process.
- Celebrate individual milestones (such as being 24 hours smokefree, 1 week smokefree, and 1 month smokefree…)
- Be proud of yourself. You should be proud every time you hit a milestone. Remember–you are stronger than tobacco. You can do it!