Ready to kick your habit? Instead of doing it cold turkey, here are tips to ease into a smoke-free life.

woman beating smokingIf you are a smoker who is looking to quit, you may be wondering how best to do it. You may have even tried in the past but were unsuccessful. That's because quitting smoking can be difficult since nicotine is addictive. But there are lots of good reasons to kick the habit so it's worth finding a way to quit that will help you give up smoking for good.

Many people find that quitting cold turkey – where they don't touch another cigarette again after the moment they decide they're going to quit – is the best way to get it done. But for others, this abrupt change results in withdrawal symptoms that are just too much to handle. Another option is to quit more gradually. While this approach takes longer and may lead to greater temptation to keep smoking, it can also make it easier for you to adjust to a life without tobacco and nicotine. If you think it will be easier to quit this way, follow whatever method you feel will work best for you.

If you're ready to try a more gradual approach to quitting, here are a few tips that may help:

  • Set a time frame for when you want to be smoke-free. This is an important part of your plan because it gives you an exact date to shoot for. Otherwise, it's easy to push off quitting or give up on your motivation.
  • Make a plan for how you'll cut back. Estimate how many cigarettes you currently smoke and determine how you'll reduce that number each day or week until you are smoking zero cigarettes by your quit end date. Write out the plan so you have something tangible to follow.
  • Write down why you want to stop smoking. When the going gets tough, remind yourself of your motivation to keep moving forward. Sometimes seeing your why in writing makes it feel more real.
  • Consider nicotine replacement therapy. If you still struggle with withdrawal symptoms, consider using nicotine replacement therapy, such as gum, lozenges, nasal spray or patches. Research shows this can improve the odds of quitting between one and a half and two-fold.
  • Arm yourself with additional support. No matter what method you use for trying to quit smoking, it's helpful to have additional support. Some people find that telling others about their intentions helps. Find replacements for cigarettes, such as chewing on sugarless gum or munching on sunflower seeds. Also come up with ways to distract yourself from smoking, such as going for a walk or doing deep breathing exercises. Support groups may also help.

Whatever method you use to quit smoking, whether gradual or cold turkey, giving up smoking is one the best things you can do for your health. It doesn't matter how long it takes you to get to a completely smoke-free life as long as you find a way that helps you quit smoking for good.

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Date Last Reviewed: November 20, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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