According to the World Health Organization, tobacco is generally considered to be the leading cause of preventable death. If you have a smoking habit, quitting can benefit your physical and mental health. You might start by making a plan, setting a date, listing your triggers, and avoiding them whenever possible. It can also be helpful to eliminate reminders, such as lighters and ashtrays, and take action to manage cravings. Nicotine substitutes can help many people who are trying to quit smoking, so you may wish to ask your doctor whether they may be a good choice for you. Therapy, whether in-person or online, can also be an excellent form of support as you let go of this habit.
Potential Reasons To Quit Smoking
Finding a goal or source of motivation that you feel strongly about and sticking with it, especially through the physical withdrawal stage, may greatly assist you on the journey to quitting.
You might quit smoking to improve your health, lower your risk for disease, and extend your life. Smoking usually increases your risk for mortality from all causes of death, including cancer, lung disease, and cardiovascular disease.
Smoking tobacco tends to be associated with lung cancer. However, it can be connected to many different cancers, such as throat, mouth, esophagus, stomach, and colon cancer, to name a few. Still, health concerns with smoking may not end with cancer. Smoking can also increase the risk of cardiovascular and lung diseases, such as emphysema, which is generally chronic and incurable.
Aside from disease prevention, quitting can also provide other health benefits, like improved breathing, distribution of oxygen and blood flow, reduced cholesterol and blood pressure, denser bones, stronger immune systems and wound healing, and better vision.
Additional Benefits Of Quitting Smoking
Positive health changes from quitting smoking can also lead to other benefits, such as healthier skin, a cleaner mouth, and an improved sense of taste and smell. Regarding smell, the scent of smoke lingering on you and your clothes may no longer be a concern, and you will likely smell better to those around you.
Financial reasons for quitting smoking can also be very common. By stopping, you can save a large amount of money and use it toward things that are enjoyable and healthy.
It’s estimated that if you buy and smoke a pack of 20 cigarettes every day, you may spend approximately $188 each month on this habit. At this rate, in one year, you may spend $2,292, and in 10, it can add up to $34,318. Therefore, the financial benefits of quitting smoking shouldn’t be underestimated, especially since the cost of cigarettes can be much higher than this in many parts of the United States. You can use this tool to see how much quitting smoking may save you.
Think Of Others As Motivation
Many people who think about quitting smoking may be considering their friends, family, and significant others. Ultimately, stopping will likely benefit the person quitting the most, but knowing that the people they care for can support them through the process may be additional motivation that can help them follow through and quit smoking.
You might think about what is most important to you and use that as your foundation to quit. As you continue to read, you may learn some useful strategies to make the process easier and increase your chances of successfully quitting.
Make A Plan
Although many people may swear by the cold turkey method, which can still be a viable tactic for some people, you can improve your odds of successfully quitting by putting together a well-thought-out plan that you can commit to.
Going cold turkey usually means you drop the habit right then and there, even if it means throwing away an unfinished pack of cigarettes. This can work, but it tends to be harsher as far as withdrawal symptoms and cravings. On the other hand, if you go with a plan, you can minimize the negative (but temporary) effects of quitting smoking.
Set A Date
One of the first parts of creating a plan can be to set a date for yourself and stick with it. Many people like to use this time to gradually cut back on how many cigarettes they smoke, which can reduce the nicotine levels in their blood and make withdrawal and cravings more bearable.
Try not to set a date that is too far in the future. In general, the sooner you can start, the better. If you delay for too long, you may lose the drive and motivation to quit.
List Your Triggers And Avoid Them
Almost all people who smoke have triggers that compel them to light up a cigarette. There can be everyday triggers, like drinking coffee, having a large meal, going on work breaks, and driving, that can make people want to smoke.
You may also need to be aware of your emotional and social triggers when you quit smoking. Emotional triggers can include boredom, stress, anger, sadness, and even happiness, satisfaction, and pleasure.
Your social triggers may involve others around you and can be some of the hardest to overcome because it’s not always feasible to avoid everyone who smokes. Being near or seeing people who smoke, breathing in the scent, and going to social gatherings where there may be smokers, like bars and family gatherings, can trigger the desire to smoke. If you have friends and family who smoke, it can be a good idea to explain that you want to quit. They should generally try not to have cigarettes lying out in plain sight and avoid offering you one.
Expanding on the topic of triggers, you may want to go through your house and vehicle and throw away any extra packs of cigarettes, as well as all the lighters, matches, and ashtrays that you might have.
Some people like to throw away old clothes that smell like tobacco smoke and have fresh, brand-new clothes prepared instead. If this is not feasible, you can do your best to clean them, either by yourself or via dry cleaning. You can also consider cleaning all the furniture in your house if you smoke indoors.
Take Action To Manage Your Cravings
When you quit smoking, the urge to smoke can be quite powerful and pop up frequently, but there can be many things you can do to help cravings pass. You can find ways to distract yourself during this challenging time, such as hobbies and activities that you like. You can also chat with others, especially if you know people who have quit smoking in the past.
Try practicing deep breathing techniques and incorporating various forms of physical activity into your daily routine to reduce tension, stress, and anxiety, as well as drinking water and juice to stay hydrated and ease the effects of nicotine withdrawal.
Consider Nicotine Substitutes
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that the following symptoms tend to be common during the first few days after quitting tobacco.
- Cravings for smoking or tobacco products
- Moodiness, irritability, and general upset feelings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleeping difficulties
- Hunger and weight gain
- Increased anxiousness, sadness, or depression
Millions of successful quitters have used nicotine substitutes or nicotine replacement therapy to get through the toughest part of the quitting phase, which is usually the withdrawal that tends to happen in the first few days after you stop smoking.
Although nicotine is generally responsible for the addiction to cigarettes, smoking cessation products that utilize gum, patches, lozenges, inhalers, and nasal sprays typically deliver a small, controlled dose of nicotine that can be just enough to ward off withdrawal symptoms and cravings. These can be safe when taken as directed, and medical experts often highly recommend this route.
Nicotine replacement therapy products can typically be found over the counter at your local drugstore or pharmacy, but if you need additional help, certain medications can also be prescribed by a doctor. Always consult a medical professional beforehand if you are exploring the option of using a nicotine substitute.
Find A Support System
Even though you are the one who is quitting, you do not necessarily have to go through this challenging process alone. There can be many ways to find the help and support you deserve during this time, especially during the first week or so, when your urge to smoke will likely be at its highest.
You may experience many different emotions and uncomfortable physical symptoms. Nonetheless, it can be vital to remember that these feelings are usually temporary, and they will likely pass.
Aside from your friends and family, there are hotlines you can call to connect to a coach who can help you create a solid plan to quit smoking. Support groups where you can interact with others who are quitting smoking may also be available online or in your local area.
How Therapy Can Help
Therapy can be extremely helpful, not only in the early quitting phase but also in keeping you smoke-free after the nicotine has completely left your system. You may continue to experience many different emotions, such as missing the habit, but these may be the psychological effects of withdrawal. Many people who successfully quit have reported that they experienced mental cravings for months after their last cigarette. Quitting smoking can be a challenge because it usually requires that you overcome both your physical and psychological dependence on nicotine.
Most people who currently smoke have a desire to quit. For example, one study reported that approximately two-thirds of people who smoke want to quit, but only 20% may be interested in quitting in the next 30 days. Furthermore, 55% of all smokers have typically tried to quit in the past year, but only 7.5% may have sustained smoking cessation for at least a year.
One reason for this low success rate may be that only a small percentage (about 31%) have sought evidence-based treatment to assist them in quitting. Another study reported that cognitive behavioral therapy combined with basic health education often helped patients quit their smoking habits.
In cognitive behavioral therapy, your therapist can guide you through behavioral cessation and relapse prevention strategies that help you understand what is keeping you from quitting. Your therapist can also give you encouragement while teaching you coping skills that help you manage your emotions, so you may not give in to the urge to light up a cigarette after a stressful event.
Benefits Of Online Therapy
It’s often hard to find the time to seek professional help, even if you know you would benefit from it. Online therapy can make it quicker and more convenient to connect with a licensed therapist who can offer insight and support. In addition, you can complete a brief questionnaire to match with a therapist who has experience helping others eliminate unhealthy habits like smoking.
A 2019 study investigated the potential efficacy of online treatment for smoking cessation and found that it was generally as effective as face-to-face treatment. If you’d like to quit smoking, online therapy may offer the support and guidance you deserve.
What's the most effective way to quit smoking?
The most effective way to quit smoking varies from person to person, but several strategies have proven successful for many individuals. According to the American Cancer Society, with approximately 14% of the U.S. population being smokers, finding the right approach can be challenging.
Here are some of the most common and successful ways to quit smoking:
- Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT): Using nicotine gum, patches, nasal spray, or lozenges can help ease withdrawal symptoms by providing controlled doses of nicotine. However, following the recommended dosage and consulting with a healthcare professional before using NRT is imperative.
- Prescription medications: Medications a doctor prescribes can also help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Some of the most commonly prescribed medications include bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix). These medications work differently, so it's crucial to discuss which is suitable for you with your doctor.
- Cold turkey: Quitting smoking abruptly without any medication or therapy may be challenging, but it has proven successful for many individuals. The cold turkey approach requires determination, support from loved ones, and coping strategies for managing withdrawal symptoms.
- Behavioral support: Combining counseling or support groups with nicotine replacement or medication can significantly improve success rates. Behavioral support can help you identify and address the underlying reasons for smoking, develop coping strategies, and stay motivated throughout your quit journey. According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), behavioral modification can improve outcomes related to quitting smoking.
- Alternative methods: Some people succeed in using techniques such as hypnosis, acupuncture, or herbal supplements. While research on these methods' effectiveness is limited, they may be worth exploring with a healthcare professional's guidance.
The most effective method can vary, but often, a combination of strategies may work best to help you quit. Depending on your circumstances, it may take a few attempts to find the right approach.
What are 5 tips for quitting smoking?
Quitting smoking is a challenging but rewarding endeavor. Here are five tips to help you on your journey:
- Setting a quit date: Choosing a specific date to quit smoking will provide you with a clear goal to work towards and mentally prepare you for the change. The accountability of a set date can also motivate you to stick with your plan.
- Avoiding triggers: Identifying and avoiding situations or activities that may trigger an urge to smoke can help you stay on track. You may need to avoid specific social settings or find alternative activities to replace smoking.
- Finding healthy replacements: Instead of reaching for a cigarette, find alternative ways to cope with stress or boredom. Sugarless gum, hard candy, and sunflower seeds are popular substitutes for smokers who enjoy the oral stimulation of smoking.
- Building a support system: You can enlist the help of friends, family, or a support group to keep you accountable and provide emotional support. If you let others know about your quit journey, they can help you avoid triggers and provide encouragement when needed.
- Celebrating milestones: Quitting smoking is a significant accomplishment, and it's essential to celebrate your progress along the way. Whether it's one week or one month smoke-free, you can find ways to reward yourself for your hard work and dedication.
Quitting smoking is a process, and it's often expected to face challenges along the way. When you are patient and kind to yourself, you increase your chances of success. Remember that it's okay to ask for help and acknowledge your progress, no matter how small.
Is one cigarette a day bad?
While smoking just one cigarette a day may seem less harmful than smoking more, it's essential to understand that any amount of smoking carries health risks. Even smoking one cigarette a day exposes you to toxic chemicals and toxins that can damage your lungs, increase the risk of heart disease, and potentially lead to addiction.
Moreover, the dangers of smoking extend beyond the individual who smokes. Secondhand smoke from even a single cigarette can harm those around you, especially pregnant persons, as it increases the risk of complications during pregnancy and can negatively impact the developing fetus.
In general, there is no safe level of smoking, and quitting altogether is the best choice for your health and those around you. If you want to quit smoking, consider seeking support and resources to help you discontinue tobacco use altogether.
How do I permanently quit smoking?
Permanently stopping smoking often requires a combination of strategies, including behavioral changes, medication, and support. Here are some tips to help you quit smoking for good:
- Identifying your reasons for quitting: Understanding why you want to stop smoking can give you the motivation and determination to quit successfully.
- Creating a plan: Setting a quit date, gathering resources, and finding a support system can help you stay on track and overcome challenges.
- Staying committed: Quitting smoking is a long-term commitment, and it's essential to remain focused on your goals, even when faced with triggers or setbacks.
- Building healthy habits: Finding alternative ways to cope with stress or boredom, such as exercise or hobbies, can help you stay smoke-free and improve your overall well-being.
The process of tobacco smoking cessation is different for everyone. However, by staying persistent and seeking support, you can successfully quit smoking for good.
How can a beginner stop smoking?
Quitting smoking can seem challenging, especially for beginners. Former smokers may have extra experience when it comes to quitting, but everyone has to start somewhere.
Here are some tips for beginners who want to stop smoking:
- Educating yourself: Learning about the harmful effects of smoking and understanding the benefits of quitting can help motivate you to take action.
- Starting small: Instead of trying to quit cold turkey, consider gradually reducing your cigarette intake or starting with smoke-free days until you feel ready to stop completely.
- Using resources: Utilizing available resources such as counseling, support groups, and medication can help you on your journey.
- Avoiding guilt or shame: Quitting smoking is a personal decision, and no one should feel ashamed or guilty if they struggle along the way. When you are patient and compassionate with yourself, you can increase your chances of success.
As you embark on your journey, remember that quitting smoking is a process, not an event. You may experience setbacks, but with determination and support, you can overcome them and ultimately quit smoking for good.
What happens when I stop smoking?
When you stop smoking, your body experiences several positive changes as it begins to repair the damage caused by tobacco use.
Here's what typically occurs:
- Improved lung function: Your lung function may improve, and the coughing and shortness of breath typically associated with smoking often decrease.
- Lower heart disease risk: Your risk of heart disease may drop as your blood pressure and heart rate return to normal levels.
- Better circulation: Your blood circulation can improve, leading to increased oxygen levels in your body, which boosts energy levels and reduces the risk of blood clots.
- Sense of taste and smell: Your senses of taste and smell can recover, making food and scents more enjoyable.
- Reduced cancer risk: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your risk of developing lung cancer and other smoking-related cancers decreases when you stop smoking.
- Improved skin: Your skin may appear healthier and less aged as blood flow improves.
- Increased lifespan: Quitting smoking can add years to your life, reducing the risk of premature death.
- Financial savings: You'll save a significant amount of money that you used to spend on cigarettes when you quit smoking for good.
These positive changes may not happen overnight, but they can occur over time as your body heals from the damage caused by smoking. Additional benefits can help you feel better physically, emotionally, and financially.
What are the 4 stages of quitting smoking?
Quitting smoking is often considered a process that involves several stages, commonly referred to as the "stages of change." These stages, which are part of the transtheoretical model of behavior change, help individuals navigate the journey to quit smoking:
- Precontemplation: In this stage, smokers are not yet considering quitting. They may not be fully aware of the health risks or may not feel ready to make a change. At this point, education and awareness about the harms of smoking can be beneficial.
- Contemplation: Smokers in this stage are aware of the need to quit but haven't taken action yet. They may weigh the pros and cons of quitting and consider the challenges involved.
- Preparation: In this stage, individuals actively plan to quit smoking. They may set a quit date, seek support, and identify coping strategies for cravings and triggers.
- Action: The action stage is where the actual quitting process takes place. Smokers make a conscious effort to quit and implement their plans. This stage may involve using nicotine replacement therapies, counseling, or support groups.
It's important to note that relapse can occur during any of these stages, and quitting smoking is often a non-linear process. Many people make multiple attempts before successfully quitting for good.
How long is nicotine withdrawal?
Nicotine withdrawal duration can vary from person to person, depending on factors like the individual's level of nicotine dependency and the specific nicotine-containing products they were using, such as chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes, or smokeless tobacco. Typically, withdrawal symptoms begin within 4 to 24 hours after quitting and peak around the third day.
Common nicotine withdrawal symptoms include irritability, anxiety, cravings, difficulty concentrating, increased appetite, and mood swings. These symptoms can be quite challenging, but it's important to remember that they are temporary.
Over the course of the following 3 to 4 weeks, withdrawal symptoms generally start to subside as the body adjusts to the absence of nicotine. It's worth noting that while physical withdrawal symptoms may resolve within a few weeks, the psychological aspects of nicotine addiction can persist for a more extended period.
During this time, you may still experience occasional cravings, but they should become less intense and frequent over time. If you're feeling stressed or experiencing cravings, you may benefit from therapy or support groups that can provide strategies to manage these feelings. Ongoing support and strategies for managing triggers and cravings are essential for long-term success in quitting nicotine-containing products like electronic cigarettes or other types of tobacco.
How many cigarettes a day is okay?
There is no safe amount of cigarettes to smoke per day. Any level of smoking can cause harm to your health. Moreover, the number of cigarettes you smoke per day does not necessarily reflect your level of nicotine addiction or health risks associated with smoking. It's essential to remember that quitting smoking entirely is always the best option for your health and well-being.
While those who smoke less may have a lower risk of health problems, they are not entirely defended from the harmful effects of smoking. Cigarette smoke can damage almost every organ in the body, and even light smokers are at risk for developing smoking-related diseases like heart disease, stroke, respiratory problems, and cancer.
It's also worth noting that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. If you're a smoker, quitting entirely is the best way to defend yourself and those around you from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke.
- Previous Article
- Next Article