Tips to create a plan to be smoke-free

Whether you have decided to quit smoking or are just considering it, putting a plan in place can help you kick the habit for good. When you decide to quit smoking, you can improve your health—and that of your loved ones.  


Create your plan to be smoke-free

When you are ready to create a plan to quit smoking, consider the following:

  • Get your friends and family on board: Your support network is your biggest asset when giving up the habit. Have a conversation with your friends, family, co-workers, and others in your social circle so that they can help encourage you, hold you accountable, and act as a resource when you are tempted to smoke.
  • Pick your approach:  For those who plan to quit cold turkey, decide on the date that you are going to quit. Give yourself a couple of weeks in advance so that you can have time to prepare yourself emotionally and feel confident in your plan. If you decide to quit gradually, create a plan to reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke each day for a number of weeks until you reach zero. With either approach, talk to your doctor, as he or she can help you create a plan to be smoke-free and provide additional advice on how to quit on your terms.
  • Throw it out: When you’ve decided you’ve smoked your last cigarette, pull together all of your cigarettes and smoking-related products (e.g., lighters) and throw them away.  
  • Identify and prepare for challenges: Strong cravings is listed as one of the top challenges you may have when you decide to quit smoking.1 Consider actionable strategies— like brushing your teeth, going for a walk, talking with a friend or loved one, or reminding yourself about the benefits of quitting—for when cravings arise so you can stay strong when you have the urge to smoke.

Health benefits of quitting

When you quit smoking for good, you significantly lower your risk of certain types of cancers, heart attack, stroke, emphysema, gum disease, and more. You also protect loved ones who are non-smokers, as they can be at risk of developing many of the above-mentioned health conditions due to exposure to  secondhand smoke.2 Thirdhand smoke, which is the residue of nicotine and other components of smoke that sticks to surfaces, hair, and clothes, is also now being identified as a health concern too. 3 Yet quitting goes beyond lowering your risk of disease—it has also been shown to improve concentration, lower stress levels, improve your breathing (in turn making exercise easier), make teeth look whiter, and even boost your immune system, making you more resilient against the cold and flu. 4 

Be mindful of how you feel over the first few days without a cigarette, as you may be much more emotional or irritated than usual. Remember that these feelings are temporary, whereas the health benefits of quitting smoking are long lasting.

Quitting smoking may feel like a daunting task, but with a thought-out plan and the support of your loved ones, you can kick the habit for good.

1. Ctri.wisc.edu, “Insights: smoking in Wisconsin,” accessed January 16, 2015, http://www.ctri.wisc.edu/Publications/publications/BarrierstoQuitting.2.28.pdf.

2. Smokefree.gov, “Protect your loved ones from secondhand smoke,” accessed January 7, 2015, http://smokefree.gov/secondhand-smoke.

3. Mayoclinic.org, “What is thirdhand smoke and why is it a concern?,” accessed January 7, 2015, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/adult-health/expert-answers/third-hand-smoke/faq-20057791.

4. Nhs.uk, “10 health benefits of smoking,” accessed January 15, 2015, http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/smoking/Pages/Betterlives.aspx.

Sources

Ctri.wisc.edu, “Insights: smoking in Wisconsin,” accessed January 16, 2015, http://www.ctri.wisc.edu/Publications/publications/BarrierstoQuitting.2.28.pdf.

Mayoclinic.org, “What is thirdhand smoke and why is it a concern?,” accessed January 7, 2015, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/adult-health/expert-answers/third-hand-smoke/faq-20057791.

Nhs.uk, “10 health benefits of smoking,” accessed January 15, 2015, http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/smoking/Pages/Betterlives.aspx.

Smokefree.gov, “Protect your loved ones from secondhand smoke,” accessed January 7, 2015, http://smokefree.gov/secondhand-smoke.

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