How to quit smoking: Make a plan

Once you’ve decided to quit, the next step is to make a plan. Set a date that allows you time to prepare, and let others know.

You’ve made the decision to quit smoking, now what?

Don’t try to do it right away. You need to make a plan and let those closest to you know you have decided to quit.

Accept the challenges that lay ahead of you. Since smoking is an addiction, you will be tackling one of the biggest challenges of your life. According to James T. Jennings, M.D., family medicine physician with Norton Community Medical Associates – Brownsboro, if you resume smoking, you have to forgive yourself and start over. Most smokers will attempt to quit five times before they are successful.

Nicotine replacement therapy is available and, if used as directed, is a safe way to help you quit smoking. Gum and patches are the most readily available, while other medications may require a prescription.

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Two eight-week Freedom from Smoking classes start Jan. 7, 2020. Pick one that works for you.

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How to Quit Smoking

Use the following steps to create a quit plan that helps identify challenges you will face and ways to overcome them.

Pick a Quit Date

Many smokers choose a date within two weeks to quit. This will give you enough time to prepare. Avoid choosing a day where you know you will be busy, stressed or tempted to smoke.

Write out your quit day somewhere where you will see it every day. This will remind you of your decision to become tobacco-free and give you time to prepare.

Let Loved Ones Know You Are Quitting

Quitting is easier with support from important people in your life. Let them know ahead of your quit date that you are planning to quit. Explain how they can help you quit.

Line up additional sources of help, in addition to the people closest to you.

Remove Reminders of Smoking or Tobacco

Get rid of smoking reminders. Clean your car and home. Even the smell of cigarettes can cause a cigarette craving.

Throw away all your cigarettes, lighters, matches, ashtrays, snuff, etc. Don’t save a pack of cigarettes or can of snuff “just in case.”

Identify Your Reasons to Quit

Everyone has their own reasons for quitting. Maybe they want to be healthier, save some money or keep their family safe. As you prepare to quit, think about your own reasons for quitting. Remind yourself of them every day. They can inspire you to stop for good. Keep a list of your reasons for quitting in a place where you can see it every day. Any time you feel the urge to smoke or use tobacco, review your list.

Identify Your Triggers

Certain activities, feelings and people are linked to your tobacco use and can trigger your urge. Try to anticipate these triggers and develop ways to deal with them.

Once you’ve identified your triggers, write down one way you can deal with or avoid each trigger. Keep this list nearby during your quit.

Develop Coping Strategies

Withdrawal from nicotine can be unpleasant, but you can get through it.

Medications and behavior changes can help you manage the symptoms of withdrawal. Many medications to help you quit are available over the counter and from your doctor. Make sure you have them on hand prior to your quit.

Don’t rely solely on medications, and turn to the other strategies in your plan. Withdrawal symptoms, including cravings, will fade with every day that you stay tobacco-free.

Set Up Rewards for Milestones

Quitting happens one minute, one hour, one day at a time. Reward yourself as you reach milestones.

Celebrate being 24 hours tobacco-free, one week tobacco-free, one month tobacco-free, etc. Quitting is hard — be proud of your accomplishments.


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