You know smoking is bad for you.
You know you should quit.
You want to quit, but it seems overwhelming. You may be worried you won’t be able to stick with it.
We get it. But we also know that cigarettes are responsible for serious health problems, including increased risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
We want you to have the best chance of quitting for good, so we’ve put together this list of tips from our experts to help you get ready to make a permanent change.
Make sure you’re ready
Be honest with yourself: Are you ready to quit? If you’re not quite ready, you are less likely to succeed.
“Your success at quitting smoking will be determined by your readiness,” says Dr. Sara Ghandehari, director of the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at Cedars-Sinai. “You need to be in a place where you want to quit because you will need to be determined to achieve your goal.”
Make a plan
Are you going to stop cold turkey or are you going to use a smoking cessation aid?
Making this decision is the next key step to quitting. There are many options available like nicotine patches, gums, and prescription medications, as well as assistance programs like this one at Cedars-Sinai, which offers free support to patients trying to quit.
“What worked for a friend may not work for you,” says Dr. Ghandehari. “Expect to utilize several smoking cessation methods because you’ll need to address all that goes along with a nicotine addiction and a smoking lifestyle.”
Whichever methods you choose, withdrawal symptoms like headache, cravings, and irritability can be expected. Speak to your healthcare provider about these concerns.
Set a date
Pick a date and commit to it.
Think about your smoking triggers
Are there activities you associate with smoking?
Maybe you like to have a cigarette with your morning coffee or with a cocktail after work. These activities are considered triggers and it’s important to identify them so you can make a plan to deal with them.
Avoid your triggers
Avoiding the triggers you identify is essential to successfully quitting.
If you can’t avoid triggers altogether, think of ways to enjoy the activity without smoking. For example, if you are used to taking cigarette breaks at work, take a walk around the block during the times you used to smoke.
Utilize available resources
Tapping into available resources will help improve your success. Use free online tools like the ones available at smokefree.gov.
“Tell your friends, family, and co-workers,” says Dr. Asher. “They can be there to help support you, and telling people who are close to you may help you stay accountable.”
Manage your cravings
Cravings are a part of quitting, so be prepared to face them.
“When you feel a craving, try doing something healthy instead,” says Dr. Ghandehari.
“Call a friend, eat a healthy snack, or find something else that can help occupy your mind until the craving passes.”
Reward your efforts
Quitting is hard—mentally, physically, and emotionally. Be kind to yourself and celebrate your accomplishments, both big and small.
Ready to quit? Call Cedars-Sinai’s Kick the Habit program at 310-423-9566 to get started.