Pick a target date
It helps to have a target date in mind for when you’re planning to quit. Choose a date for example a month from now — and stick to it. Although some people can quit by cutting down over time, the best way is give up completely in one stroke. Make sure the day you choose is going to be a relatively stress-free one.
Keep a diary
Keep a diary, perhaps for a week just before you intend quitting. It’s important to understand your smoking before you give up. Write down all the times that you smoke every day and note how much you needed each cigarette. You may then spot patterns, triggers or habits which you can think of dealing with once you start trying to quit.
Prepare to stop
Get rid of all smoking materials around the house. First of all, throw out all cigarettes or tobacco don’t be tempted to keep a secret emergency stash of any! If you’ve got to make an effort to get them, such as going to the shops, then your craving might pass (or the guilt may have gotten to you) by the time you get there.
Also get rid of lighters, ashtrays and matches, anything that will make it easy to light up again. Clean your house, removing stale smoke smells from everywhere including your clothing.
Get help from all manner of sources. Start with family and friends and let them know that you’re giving up. You might have to ask smokers not to smoke in front of you, or you may have to ask the family to bear with you as you might be a little short tempered for a while. Other assistance can be provided by your doctor or a pharmacist, who will be able to give you advice on how to stop and to let you know about specialist services and helplines.
Quit with others
One way of gaining strength when quitting is to do it at the same time as other people. Find at least one other person who would like to give up — a good example would be a colleague at work, since working may be the most stressful part of your day — and agree to support each other.
Alternatively, you might like to choose a friend who you would like to make a pact with to quit at the same time, you could go to a smoking cessation group, where you’ll be surrounded by plenty of other people who will provide support for one another.
List your reasons for quitting
Write down all the reasons why you want to stop smoking. Don’t forget all the reasons such as saving money, being and looking healthier, or doing it for the sake of your family. Keep this list somewhere handy — perhaps on your desk at work or leave little ‘reminder’ notes around your house, so that wherever you go there’ll be a note staring you in the face to remind you why you are quitting.
Break the routine
Most smokers will have times when and places where they always have a cigarette. For some people this could be a cigarette after their first couple of hours at work, while for others it may be or to accompany their first hot drink of the day. Some smokers like to light up after a meal or when they have a drink in a bar after work. Try to avoid these situations, for example by not going outside to smoke, or by visiting somewhere where smoking is banned.
Find new distractions
Smoking is a habit, and so to kick the habit you’ll need to find something else to replace it. Some people mistakenly replace cigarettes with another vice such as alcohol or junk food, which are similar ‘hard-to-break’ habits. Instead of taking up another vice, occupy yourself with something else — even if it’s something very simple such as chewing gum. If you’re feeling particularly brave, you could even get into something more challenging and constructive such as committing to get fit.
Take the ‘cold turkey’ approach
Many people attempt the ‘cold turkey’ approach, and try to stop smoking without any additional help other than their own willpower. Although it does work for some, it will certainly make the first week after you’ve quit rather difficult, as your body will crave nicotine. One way to make the experience easier to deal with is to use nicotine replacement therapy to help minimize your withdrawal symptoms.
Use ‘quit aids’
There are plenty of ‘quit aids’ out there that can ease the withdrawal symptoms from nicotine. Your cravings can be greatly eased by using treatments such as patches, chewing gum, nasal sprays, or even types of non-nicotine drugs that help to suppress cravings. Smokers who get help from such aids are significantly more likely to successfully quit than people who try to quit through willpower alone.
Once you’ve stopped, stay off the cigarettes. Even just one cigarette can undo all the hard work and lead to the habit forming again, making all that hard work giving up pointless. Keep reminding yourself about the benefits of giving up smoking, and keep using your nicotine replacement treatment — even when you think you have kicked the habit. Set yourself a target and reward yourself for reaching it.
And if it doesn’t work out …
It’s important not to beat yourself up if you fall back into bad habits. Just treat it as part of the process of giving up. Everyone is different, and while some give up smoking the first time they try, others may take several attempts, often over many years. Try to regain your original thoughts of giving up, rediscover your determination, and try again. You can do it!