If you or a loved one is thinking about quitting smoking, this is the year to quit for good with the right resources, and with family and friends cheering on. There will be urges to smoke, that's inevitable, but quitters can overcome them and the American Lung Association is here to help.
Check out these tips for becoming smokefree, and share them with the family member, friend or co-worker who is quitting in the new year.
1) Eliminate triggers. Do a thorough cleaning of your house and car to remove cigarettes, ashtrays, smoke odors and other reminders of smoking. If you live with someone who smokes and is not quitting at this time, make a plan so you're not tempted when they light up. Ask them not to smoke in front of you, at least during the toughest parts of your quit.
2) Give it time. The desire to smoke won't disappear overnight and the first seven to 10 days will probably be the toughest. Most smokers who return to smoking do so within the first three months. Even after several months or years, you may still have occasional cravings for a cigarette. This is normal. These urges will occur less often over time and they'll eventually stop completely.
3) Slip-ups are OK. Nobody is perfect and your path to quitting might not be either. Having a puff or smoking a cigarette or two doesn't have to mean you're done with this quit attempt. If you've had a small lapse – you haven't failed as long as you take action to prevent it happening again. Remind yourself of all the good reasons why you decided to quit and figure out what you'll do differently moving ahead. Be patient with yourself and keep looking forward.
4) Wait it out. A craving to smoke only lasts three to five minutes, whether you smoke or not. Call a friend, get a drink of water, do some deep breathing or play a game on your phone. Find something to distract your mind so you can make it through those few minutes.
5) Plan for situations that make you want to smoke. There are certain stressors and environments that can trigger a smoking craving. For example, being at a party and drinking alcohol makes many smokers want a cigarette. Excuse yourself from the room for a moment or ask a friend to keep you accountable and smokefree. It may even be best to avoid these situations for the first few weeks.
6) Rework your routine. Your schedule may have had built in smoke breaks and cravings can hit especially hard at those times. Know when these times are and what your triggers are, then make a plan to avoid them. For example, if you used to take a specific break at work to smoke push that break 15 minutes forward or linger near the water cooler. If you have a cigarette with your morning coffee, try taking a shower or walking the dog first before that cup of joe.
7) Be patient with yourself. There is no room for self-blame or feelings of guilt when you are quitting smoking. If you do start smoking again, don't think of that as a failure. You are still learning to quit. Figure out what led to your relapse and plan on what to do differently next time.
8) Keep Trying. Every smoker can quit. It may take some time or a few practice quits, but you have the power to break this addiction. Keep trying until you find the right combination of techniques for you and you will be able to quit smoking for good.
You can do this! And if you need support along the way, call the toll-free Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA to speak with a certified smoking cessation counselor. The American Lung Association also offers Freedom From Smoking in-person clinics and online support, with proven-effective quit smoking strategies. You're not alone in your quit attempt, the American Lung Association is here to help!