There are a number of reasons why people smoke. Some enjoy it, others just smoke socially, some people are just plain addicted and whether they like it or not light up to satisfy the incredible cravings they have for nicotine. But smoking is highly addictive, and even if a person would like to quit smoking, it can be very difficult to quit. Here are some tips that have worked for people I know who have quit smoking successfully after smoking for a long time. Maybe they’ll work for you.
Don’t necessarily pick a quitting smoking day. This just adds pressure to your addiction and makes quitting more frightening. People who are already thinking of quitting smoking have the urge to quit weighing heavily on their minds already. A friend of mine who was considering quitting just lit up a cigarette one day and couldn’t find a strong enough reason to put the smoke to her lips. That was her starting point. If you’re thinking of quitting, at some point the urge should be strong enough to motivate you to just suddenly start trying to stop.
This same friend would light a cigarette in the morning, then not smoke it. She found comfort in going through the motions of smoking without actually doing it. She would keep a lit cigarette in her hand for weeks, not inhaling, just ashing it until it was gone. Then she’d put it out and go on with her life. Eventually, after a month or so, she was able to forgo lighting a cigarette at all.
Having your last cigarette before bed is another tactic people I know have used. This gives them an 8 hour head start on quitting smoking for when they wake up in the morning and want one. I’ve heard the strongest craving urge lasts just a few moments, and people who are quitting who have the morning urge can find comfort in a strong caffeinated beverage to offset the nicotine craving and stay on track.
I know someone who quit smoking 3 years ago and he still chews a nicotine gum when he’s stressed. This keeps him from buying a pack of smokes, and this tactic may work for you. He was a heavy smoker for about 30 years, and the cravings still get him, but he battles them with the gum.
I know an old coworker who used to smoke menthols, and though she quit 25 years ago still gets cravings. She battles them by constantly sucking on peppermints. Her battle with smoking is a tough one as her husband still smokes, but having something in her mouth that reminds her of her smoking days keeps her on track.
A young friend of mine recently quit smoking cold turkey, and rewards herself by placing a quarter in a jar every time her normal smoking times arrive and she skips a cigarette. Since she smokes almost a pack a day, she is chumping up on change for every cigarette she doesn’t have. I’ve seen her clutch a quarter for dear life for a few moments and then sigh heavily and drop her quarter in her jar. She claims that holding the quarter for the length of time she normally smokes puts her in the mindset that she has actually smoked, and she gets a small reward in return. A tough tactic, but a rewarding one.
Keeping your hands busy is something I’ve seen people do. I knew a guy who would keep a lighter going on and off for several minutes while he thought about a cigarette. Even something as simple as holding that familiar object in your hand can help keep you from missing cigarettes.
Most people I know don’t like the nicotine patches or gum, claiming they make them ill and tried different techniques instead. I don’t know, but the only person I know who quit with the gum still chews it on occasion when he’s really stressed out.
Everyone I know who quit smoking had a backup pack of smokes in their car or purse just in case. They claimed it lessened the fear of quitting cold turkey, knowing they could have one if they REALLY needed to. However, those packs remained untouched and after a few months were tossed out or given away to other people without regret. I suppose having a pack handy in case you really need it increases your quitting willpower and makes you feel more powerful in quitting.
Everyone I know who quit smoking would brag about it nonstop, and it’s awesome. When they would hit one week or 1 month marks, they would give everyone and their mothers a call to share their success. Sharing your accomplishments helps keep you on track.
Hanging around people who still smoke is not necessarily a bad thing. My recently non-smoking friend claims she is calmed by the smoke smell and watching others smoke. She says is lessens her urge to smoke to see others smoking around her and not want to light up. She keeps a pack of smokes in her bag just in case, but still does not light up. Staying away from all smokers is not always the best tactic, as staying near smokers while not smoking challenges your willpower and may calm your urges.
Smoking is tough to quit, and it takes a conscious effort that is on-going. The mantra “One day at a time” works for many, and while the cravings don’t really go away, they can become less severe and become easier to ignore over time. While it’s scary to quit, it can be very rewarding, and it just takes a want to quit to give it a try. If you fail (some of my friends have) then you can try again when you are ready. Also, if you don’t want to quit, then don’t. You may change your mind some day, but don’t pressure yourself if you really have no urge to quit smoking.