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Make a plan for quitting smoking

You've made up your mind to quit smoking.

Good for you!

Now it's time to get ready. Preparing to quit can increase your chances of success. So before you quit, take these important steps:

Set a quit date

Choose a day no more than one or two weeks away so you don't lose motivation, advises Smokefree.gov.

Tell others

It's easier to quit smoking when you have support. Tell your family, friends and co-workers that you plan to quit. You might consider discussing these points:

  • You may need extra understanding from others as you adjust to life without smoking. You may feel irritable or cranky, for instance. Tell people, "The longer I go without cigarettes, the sooner I'll be back to my old self."
  • If people close to you smoke, ask them to quit with you—or at least not to smoke around you. Also ask them not to offer you cigarettes or to leave them out where you can see them.

Anticipate and plan for challenges

There will be times of temptation and cravings. And there will be symptoms of withdrawal. Keep these points in mind:

  • You can plan ahead for ways to deal with cravings. Think about when you feel like you need a cigarette most. Is it when you are stressed or feeling down? Come up with practical ways for handling these situations.
  • Realize that when you experience symptoms of withdrawal, they are your body's way of saying it is getting used to life without nicotine. The discomfort will go away in time (usually within a few weeks).

Remove reminders

Clear your surroundings of things that remind you of smoking. For instance:

  • Make things clean and fresh at home, at work and in your car. Clean your drapes and clothes. Shampoo your car.
  • Have your teeth cleaned to get rid of smoking stains. See them sparkle. Then aim to keep them that way.

Talk to your doctor

Quitting cold turkey isn't your only option. Medicines—some prescription and others over-the-counter—may help ease withdrawal symptoms and boost your chances of quitting for good.

But it's best to check with your doctor to find out which, if any, of these medications is the right fit for you.

Also, whether or not you seek professional help to quit, be sure to let your doctor and pharmacist know that you are giving up smoking. Nicotine changes how some drugs work, so some of your prescriptions may need to be changed after you quit.

Additional sources: American Cancer Society; National Cancer Institute

reviewed 12/2/2019

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