How bad your symptoms are depends on how long you smoked. How many cigarettes you smoked each day also plays a role.
FEEL READY TO QUIT?
First, set a quit date. Quit completely on that day. Before your quit date, you may begin reducing your cigarette use. But remember, there is no safe level of cigarette smoking. See also:
List the reasons why you want to quit. Include both short- and long-term benefits.
Identify the times you are most likely to smoke. For example, do you tend to smoke when feeling stressed or down? When out at night with friends? While drinking coffee or alcohol? When bored? While driving? Right after a meal or sex? During a work break? While watching TV or playing cards? When you are with other smokers?
Let your friends, family, and co-workers know of your plan to stop smoking. Tell them your quit date. It can be helpful if they know what you are going through, especially when you are grumpy.
Get rid of all your cigarettes just before the quit date. Clean out anything that smells like smoke, such as clothes and furniture.
MAKE A PLAN
Make a plan about what you will do instead of smoking at those times when you are most likely to smoke.
Be as specific as possible. For example, drink tea instead of coffee. Tea may not trigger the desire for a cigarette. Or, take a walk when you feel stressed.
Remove ashtrays and cigarettes from the car. Put pretzels or hard candies there instead. Pretend-smoke with a straw.
Find activities that focus your hands and mind. But make sure they are not taxing or fattening. Computer games, solitaire, knitting, sewing, and crossword puzzles may help.
If you normally smoke after eating, find other ways to end a meal. Play a tape or CD. Eat a piece of fruit. Get up and make a phone call. Take a walk (a good distraction that also burns calories).
CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE
Make other changes in your lifestyle. Change your daily schedule and habits. Eat at different times or eat several small meals instead of three large ones. Sit in a different chair or even a different room.
Satisfy your oral habits in other ways. Eat celery or another low-calorie snack. Chew sugarless gum. Suck on a cinnamon stick.
Review Date: 04/28/2011
Reviewed By: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine (10/31/2010).