The Boilerplate Points
of Quittin
g Smoking

© 2001 Patrick Reynolds, Foundation for a Smokefree America

Do your best to follow as many of these as you can. The points which follow are advocated by most of today's credible quit-smoking products and programs. They are widely considered to be a required and essential part of quitting successfully. Just using the patch or Zyban without following the points below will seriously hinder your chances to quit for good this time.
     
  • DEEP BREATHING PERHAPS THE SINGLE MOST POWERFUL AND IMPORTANT TECHNIQUE Every time you want a cigarette, do the following. Do it three times.

    Inhale the deepest lung-full of air you can, and then, very slowly, exhale. Purse your lips so that the air must come out slowly.

    As you exhale, close your eyes, and let your chin gradually sink over onto your chest. Visualize all the tension leaving your body, slowly draining out of your fingers and toes, just flowing on out.

    This is a variation of an ancient yoga technique from India, and is VERY centering and relaxing. If you practice this, you'll be able to use it for any future stressful situation you find yourself in. And it will be your greatest weapon during the strong cravings sure to assault you over the first few days.

    This deep breathing technique will be a vital help to you. Reread this point now, and as you do, try it for the first time. Inhale and exhale three times. See for yourself!

  • The first few days, drink LOTS of water and fluids to help flush out the nicotine and other poisons from your body.

  • Remember that the urge to smoke only lasts a few minutes, and will then pass. The urges gradually become farther and farther apart as the days go by.

  • Do your very best to stay away from alcohol, sugar and coffee the first week or longer, as these tend to stimulate the desire for a cigarette. Avoid fatty foods, as your metabolism will slow down a bit without the nicotine, and you may gain weight even if you eat the same amount as before quitting. So discipline about diet is extra important now. No one ever said acquiring new habits would be easy!

  • Nibble on low calorie foods like celery, apples and carrots. Chew gum or suck on cinnamon sticks.

  • Stretch out your meals; eat slowly and wait a bit between bites.

  • After dinner, instead of a cigarette, treat yourself to a cup of mint tea or a peppermint candy.

  • In one study, about 25% of quitters found that an oral substitute was invaluable. Another 25% didn't like the idea at all -- they wanted a clean break with cigarettes. The rest weren't certain. Personally, I found a cigarette substitute to be a tremendous help. The nicotine inhaler (by prescription) is one way to go: it's a shortened plastic cigarette, with a replaceable nicotine capsule inside.

  • A simpler way to go is bottled cinnamon sticks, available at any supermarket. I used these every time I quit, and they really helped me. I would chew on them, inhale air through them, and handle them like cigarettes. After a while, they would get pretty chewed up on one end -- but I'd laugh, reverse them and chew on the other end. Others may prefer to start a fresh stick. Once someone asked me, "Excuse me, but is that an exploded firecracker in your mouth?" I replied that I was quitting smoking – and they smiled and became supportive. Luckily, I never needed the cinnamon sticks after the first three days of being a nonsmoker.

  • Go to a gym, sit in the steam, exercise. Change your normal routine – take time to walk or even jog around the block or in a local park.

  • Look in the yellow pages under Yoga, and take a class – they're GREAT! Get a one hour massage, take a long bath -- pamper yourself.

  • Ask for support from coworkers, friends and family members. Ask for their tolerance. Let them know you're quitting, and that you might be edgy or grumpy for a few days. If you don't ask for support, you certainly won't get any. If you do, you'll be surprised how much it can help. Take a chance -- try it and see!

  • Ask friends and family members not to smoke in your presence. Don't be afraid to ask. This is more important than you may realize.

  • On your quit day, hide all ashtrays and destroy all your cigarettes, preferably with water, so no part of them is smokeable.

  • To talk to a live human being, call 1-800-QUITNOW for a free quit smoking counselor, or call the National Cancer Institute's free Smoking Quitline, 1-877-44U-Quit. Proactive counseling services by trained personnel will be provided in sessions both before and after quitting smoking.

  • Check out QuitNet.org and go to their chat room, where those quitting are doing it together, not alone. It can be a great source of support -- like a Nicotine Anonymous meeting, but online. Quitnet was originally funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Tobacco Control Program, which was funded by a State cigarette tax increase passed by the Massachusetts legislature in the early 90's.

  • At Nicotine Anonymous meetings, you'll find support and fellowship, which can be more comforting than a computer screen. If this appeals to you, find a meeting near you at the website of Nicotine Anonymous -- they are all over the US. Meetings are based around the classic 12-steps, borrowed from Alcoholics Anonymous' winning formula to overcome addiction. Attendance is 100% free, and this org is run entirely by volunteers. At the website you can also find out how to start your own meeting. Support groups like Nicotine Anonymous might initially seem unnecessary -- but they provide a GREAT outlet to vent verbally, and you men might be surprised at how good this feels! Best of all, it could help spare your family and friends much grumpiness. It's truly therapeutic to see how other quitters are doing in their own struggles to stop, and to get support from others going through the same struggle you are.

  • Write down ten good things about being a nonsmoker -- and then write out ten bad things about smoking. Do it. It really helps.

  • Don't pretend smoking wasn't enjoyable – it was. Quitting can be like losing a dear old friend – and it's okay to grieve that loss. Let the feelings engulf you instead of avoiding your pain with sweets or some other distraction. Letting your feelings out is how you heal, and put the source of your pain behind you. It's a process: feel, and you will heal. So stick with the difficult feelings. You can do it!

  • Several times a day, quietly repeat to yourself the affirmation, "I am a nonsmoker." Many quitters see themselves as smokers who are just not smoking for the moment. They have a self-image as smokers who still want a cigarette. Silently repeating the affirmation "I am a nonsmoker" will help you change your view of yourself, and, even if it may seem silly to you, this is actually useful. Use it!

  • Here is perhaps the most valuable information among these points. In Phase 2, the period which begins a few weeks after quitting, the urges to smoke will subside considerably. However, it's vital to understand that from time to time, you will still be suddenly overwhelmed with a desire for "just one cigarette." This will happen unexpectedly, during moments of stress, whether negative stress or positive (at a party, or on vacation). If you are unprepared to resist, succumbing to that "one cigarette" will lead you directly back to smoking. Remember the following secret: in these surprise attacks during Phase 2 -- and they will definitely come -- do your deep breathing, and hold on for five minutes, and the urge will pass.

In conclusion, get the info and support you need to make the stopping process a little easier. DO NOT try to go it alone. Get help, and plenty of it.

One of the most effective and best researched programs we've found is www.BecomeAnEx.org, a free resource for tobacco users who want to quit. This extraordinary, brilliant program was developed using the latest research by the American Legacy foundation, the foundation created with $2 billion of the $240 billion settlement of the lawsuits by the States against Big Tobacco. Add the Become An Ex program to your arsenal in your battle against tobacco.