Top Ten Tips
To Quit Smoking.
1. Have a “big enough why.” Spend time thinking about why you want to
quit. What are your personal reasons to quit? Then write down the reasons. Post
your written reasons on your refrigerator and elsewhere, and let the list remind you
every day of these important reasons. It’s your life, so be motivated to succeed.
Some famous motivational speakers and “gurus” use “leverage” to give the
smoker motivation to quit. Tony Robbins, for example, has charged people $15,000
or more for a one-hour smoking cessation session. If you’re willing to pay $15,000 to
quit, you’re probably motivated, and also more likely to succeed. Other trainers may
have the person (besides paying a fair amount of money) do tasks, such as homework
exercises, before the person is taken as a client. Doing so ensures that the person
is motivated to quit, which helps get better results.
My tip is for you to determine the real reasons you want to quit, and to
internally experience how important it is for you to quit once you know your “big
enough why.” Take time every day to experience the feelings of how important it is
for you to quit, once you know your personal reasons … once you know your big
2. Throw away all cigarettes and related items. Toss them in the garbage.
All cigarettes, matches, ashtrays, lighters, rolling papers, cigars, hookahs, logo
clothing, and other items from tobacco companies that they try to use to brand you
as a smoker—discard anything to do with smoking. Don’t allow any of that stuff at
home, at work, or in your car. Some say to put away ashtrays and lighters. I say throw
them away, so that it will cost you money if you don’t stick to your goal of quitting.
3. Set a quit date. Determine a definite date when you will quit (or will start
a gradual scheduled reduction program --- for more information on gradual scheduled reduction, see pp. 341-3 in Ending The Tobacco Holocaust).
4. Change your identity and self-image to “I am a nonsmoker.” You
are no longer a smoker having a problem with quitting. Change your identity to
that of a nonsmoker so that smoking isn’t congruent with who you are. In a calm
moment, you may want to close your eyes and visualize yourself as smoke-free,
happily breathing fresh healthy air into your lungs, and feeling relaxed and refreshed
5. Share your goal with friends and family. Tell them you’re quitting and
ask for their support in helping you to do so. (Hypnotist Marshall Sylver has people
come up on stage and tell the audience that if anyone in the audience ever sees
them smoke again, then that person from the audience can collect $1,000 from
them. How’s that for social and financial motivation?)
6. Avoid all triggers, and learn new replacement behaviors. Identify
your personal triggers for smoking beforehand, and write them down.
Avoid alcohol, coffee, and other triggers for smoking. If you smoke when you are
anxious, replace that behavior with a new one, perhaps simply breathing in fresh air
in a relaxing manner. Some possible relaxation methods include progressive muscle
relaxation, deep breathing, internal visualization, and meditation. Some people learn
yoga, meditation on the breath, and other techniques to quickly relax and to replace
the urge to smoke.
When’s the last time you just took a good ole deep breath and relaxed? If
you’ve been drawing in cigarette-poisoned air to get that deep breath, skip the poison
and just breathe the fresh air. Over the long run, your body will thank you.
An excellent book to help avoid temptation, deal with urges to smoke, and not
relapse once you have quit is Out of the Ashes: Help for People Who Have Stopped Smoking by Peter and Peggy Holmes.
7. Set a no-smoking policy. Don’t allow anyone to smoke in your home or
car, and avoid other people when they are smoking. Even a few whiffs of smoke have
been known to entice people trying to quit back to smoking.
According to Laura Juliano, Ph.D., “… the relapse process begins with a single
smoking episode, which may appear at the outset to be a lapse or a slip. Although it is possible that an individual could achieve long-term abstinence despite having had a smoking lapse, this is rarely the case. Rather, 79%–97% of individuals who experience
a smoking lapse subsequently return to some pattern of regular smoking (indicated
by three or more consecutive days of smoking).”
Assert your right to fresh air. Take your efforts seriously and (as much as possible)
avoid all tobacco smoke. Those efforts will pay off when you successfully quit.
8. Get support. Utilize group counseling, an individual counselor, Nicotine
Anonymous, and/or Quitlines. For example, the National Cancer Institute Smoking
Quitline toll-free number is 1-877-44U-QUIT.
The most recent scientific data show that people who try to quit on their own
have less than a 5% chance of being smoke-free one year later. (While getting support
is helpful, the odds of being smoke-free one year later greatly improve with
the addition of nicotine replacement or gradual scheduled reduction methods, and
9. Use scientifically proven methods. Use methods that have been
confirmed to be effective by research. When testing single methods in rigorously
designed studies, the best results have been shown in studies using medications,
such as with the new Chantix (varenicline), bupropion SR (brand name Zyban or
Wellbutrin), or with second-line medications, nortriptyline hydrochloride, or clonidine.
Other medications available are supported by less data than those named
above, and new medications may be approved in the next few years.
Nicotine replacement therapies have helped many people, though the data is
less dramatic for them than for medications. These therapies include the nicotine
patch, nicotine gum, nicotine nasal spray, and the nicotine inhaler. (Don’t smoke when
you use these replacement methods.) I believe that gradual scheduled reduction
methods hold promise to possibly be more effective than nicotine replacement therapies
(see pp. 341-3 in Ending The Tobacco Holocaust).
10. Combine methods and “Commit To Quit.” Combining methods for
quitting seems to be most effective, though there are far fewer studies that have tested
the many possible combinations than for single methods. At Kaiser Permanente,
the best results seem to be obtained when patients take a seven-week class, use the
nicotine patch and bupropion SR, talk with a counselor from the smoking cessation
department, and also use outside quit resources, such as books, the Internet, quitlines,
and/or Nicotine Anonymous. Your goal isn’t to prove one method or the other; it is
to quit smoking and live a healthy life. So put in the effort for your own physical and
financial well-being as well as your family’s, your friends’, and society’s.
I may get some flack from colleagues for saying this, but I also think that if the
standard methods don’t work for you, try any non-harmful method that fits your
budget, that you like, and that you think may help you to quit. While methods such
as hypnosis haven’t been proven effective according to the standards required by the
scientific community, many people claim it has helped them (e.g., hypnosis worked for
celebrities Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, but not for Robert Downey Jr.). Also, there’s
no reason why methods such as hypnosis can’t be combined with standard scientifically
proven methods (such approaches are called complementary medicine). One
caution: herbal supplements may have interactions with medications, so use of those
should be discussed with your physician before you try them.
If money and time are big issues, try the scientifically proven methods first. However,
we’re literally talking about your life here, so if you’re not constrained by money
and time limitations, then invest your money and time to be successful at quitting. If using
non-harmful complementary methods help you to achieve success, that’s wonderful.
Never give up! The average smoker takes ten to eleven attempts to finally
quit. (Most smokers try repeatedly to quit on their own with no outside help and
we know that approach typically gets poor results.) With current methods, as tested
in large populations, there still is more than a 50% chance of not succeeding for one
year. I hope that doesn’t happen to you, but if it does, don’t give up. Over 50% of
all smokers have successfully quit. View each attempt as a learning experience on
the way to successfully quitting. Take to heart these words from Winston Churchill,
“Never give up” until you succeed.
On the other hand, if this is your first attempt to quit, I don’t want to influence
you to believe that you need to attempt quitting many times before you
can be successful. Millions of people have been successful at quitting for life with
their first attempt to quit. For a first-time attempt it might be helpful to remember
the words of the Star Wars movie trilogy Jedi Master Yoda: “Do, or do not. There is no ‘try.’”
Legal Disclaimer: The information on this website is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat any disease. All diagnosis and treatment of illness and disease should be done in consultation with your licensed health professional. It is suggested that all smoking cessation efforts be undertaken with the help of support services and also in consultation with a health care professional.