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A thorough guide to preparing for your quit.

Your chances of quitting smoking are much better when you have a plan. There is a list of ideas, suggestions and advice below to help you get ready for your first in a long line of smoke-free days.

Getting Ready to Quit

No matter how you try to do it, quitting smoking can be one of the hardest things you will ever do. Here are some simple things you can do ahead of time to help increase your chances of success:

  1. Pick a quit date. Circle it on your calendar and leave reminder notes on your desk, your refrigerator, near your phone, in your car.
  2. As you get close to your quit date, try cutting back on how much you smoke a little every day.
  3. Start getting rid of smoking items in your home, such as ashtrays, lighters and extra packs of smokes.
  4. Clean your home and car so the smell of cigarettes won’t tempt you once you quit.
  5. Think about when you usually have your first smoke of the day and try to delay that for as long as you can.
  6. Make a list of the reasons why you want to quit and keep the list handy for when you feel a craving.
  7. Tell your family and friends that you’re going to quit and ask them not to smoke in front of you.
  8. Think about the places you normally smoke. If you can avoid them once you quit, it’ll help keep you from getting tempted.
  9. If you’ve tried to quit before and didn’t make it, think about what made you slip up and try something different.
  10. Make a list of three friends you can rely on for support. When you feel a craving or get stressed out, give one of them a call.

Motivate Yourself

No one quits smoking without a reason. For some people, it’s about feeling left out because all their friends have quit. For others, it’s for health or family or because of the rising cost of the habit. What’s your reason?

Write down your reasons for not smoking.

  • Think of as many as you can, big or small.
  • Set the list aside for a few days.
  • Then, go through and pick the top five reasons.

Keep your list with you. When the urge to smoke hits, pull it out and read it again. It will help your craving pass and remind you of the great choice you’ve made. For more ideas on motivating yourself, check out the Capturing Your Motivations for Quitting Podcast.

Learn Why You Smoke

Everyone who smokes does so for a reason. Even though you want to quit, there are two reasons that make it very hard:

  1. You have a physical need for nicotine. You experience nicotine withdrawal when you go too long without a cigarette. Your body “tells” you this when you get a craving. The craving goes away once you light up. This is because you have fed the addiction. Get ready to deal with this. You may want to think about adding medication to your quit plan.
  2. You may be addicted to the act of smoking. While you were teaching yourself to smoke, you were also training yourself to use cigarettes in many different situations. Knowing how to deal with these situations can help you deal with triggers like those listed below. For tips and ideas on how to deal with these triggers, check out Tips to Stay Quit.
  • Finishing a meal
  • Drinking coffee
  • Talking on the telephone
  • Between tasks
  • Stress, an argument, disappointment, or negative event
  • Driving or riding in the car
  • Other people who smoke
  • Work breaks
  • Parties
  • Alcohol

What triggers your urge to smoke? Write your triggers down and think about the best way to handle each of them.

Your Quit Plan

There is no one right way to quit. Many smokers prefer to quit cold turkey: they stop completely, all at once. Some start by cutting down on the number of cigarettes they smoke a little each day. This way you can slowly reduce the amount of nicotine in your body. You might cut out cigarettes smoked with a cup of coffee, or you might decide to smoke only at certain times of the day.

You’ll find links to some of the most popular quit plans below. Whatever plan you decide to follow, it should include:

A Quit Date
Pick a specific day within the next month as your Quit Day. Choose a date with a special meaning. This could be a birthday or anniversary. It could also be the date of the Great American Smokeout, the third Thursday in November each year. Or you may want to just pick a random date. Circle the date on your calendar. Make a strong, personal commitment to yourself to quit on that day. For more help, check out the Setting a Quit Date and Preparing for Your Quit Day podcast.

Ideas for Coping with Cravings & Tough Situations
There will be lots of times when the going gets tough. For everyday cravings, stock up on oral substitutes like sugarless gum or hard candy, celery, carrot sticks or nuts. Keep some handy in all of the places you’re likely to have a craving. Snacks aren’t the only distraction you’ll want to have. Click here for some great 5-minute distractions, or order free quit tools to have on hand.

It will be tough to resist the urge to smoke if your best friend offers you a cigarette or keeps smoking in front of you. You’re going to need to practice and prepare yourself. Click here to learn more about handling tough situations that trigger your urge to smoke. For more, check out the Being a Non-Smoker podcasts.

A large amount of nicotine enters your body rapidly and travels to your brain when you smoke. Nicotine replacement medications are safer than cigarettes. Not everyone who decides to quit smoking will want or need to use medication. You may need a prescription to get certain medications. Before you decide if medication is right for you, talk with your doctor.

You can also click here for more information on the types of medication available to help you stop smoking. Or, listen to the Medications podcast.

Set up a support system. This could be a friend or family member who has quit and is willing to help you. Ask family and friends who still smoke not to smoke around you or leave cigarettes out where you can see them . If you need a little more help, 802Quits offers phone or in-person coaching and online support.

Become an Ex – Relearn life without cigarettes. Download the booklet (PDF).

American Cancer Society Break Away From The Pack Guides (PDF)

  • Book 1  – Reasons to quit smoking, stop-smoking medications and other ways to make quitting easier.
  • Book 2 – Prepare to quit smoking and help with the first week without tobacco.
  • Book 3 – Staying off tobacco for good, preparing for tough situations.

American Cancer Society


802Quits Online Support – Resources, expert support and a whole community of people who know what you’re going throughQuit Smoking Today


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