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How to Be a Quitter | Tips to Quit Smoking

November 18, 2014

No doubt about it - quitting smoking is hard to do. But with the right tools and support in place, you CAN do it! 

Here are some tips for getting through the crucial first month, from Judith Hansen, RN,BSN,MPH, wellness educator at Day Kimball Healthcare and a facilitator of our smoking cessation classes

Judith uses these tips, gathered from the Centers for Disease Control, as part of her smoking cessation program.

The First Few Days: Things Will Get Better Soon 

The first few days after quitting smoking can be tough, but the “quitting blues” don't last forever. The craving for a cigarette is strongest during the first week and you may not feel like yourself or may cough more at first. But the worst of it will be over in two to three weeks. And after a month, you'll likely feel better than you have in a long time. So hang in there, and take it one day at a time. Every day you don't smoke is a victory in itself.

The best defense is a good offense - be prepared with a plan before you quit! 

Below are some of the common challenges people face when they first quit smoking, and tips on how to handle them.

When you have urges to smoke:

  • Wait it out—whether you smoke or not, the strong urge to smoke will pass in a few minutes. 
  • Remind yourself of all the reasons why you want to stop smoking. Say a prayer. Do a brief meditation. Repeat a favorite poem or verse.

If you're having trouble with attention and focus: 

  • Go easy on yourself. You’ll get your focus back soon enough. 
  • Break big jobs into small parts.
  • Take a break and come back to the task a little later. 

If you're having tense, restless feelings:

  • Take a quiet walk, work in the garden, arrange some flowers, or listen to soothing music - whatever healthy activities you enjoy that can help to occupy your mind.
  • Take a shower or bath if possible.

If you're experiencing frustration and anger:

  • Get away from the problem. 
  • Exercise to blow off steam. 
  • Close your eyes and imagine something soothing and pleasant. Escape for a moment by thinking about that peaceful image and nothing else.

If you're having trouble sleeping: 

  • Try deep breathing to relax at bedtime.
  • Drink something warm and tasty (but without caffeine!).
  • Take a bath.

If you're unusually hungry, especially for sweets:

  • Drink fruit juice.
  • Eat low-calorie sweets and fruits.
  • Chew some sugar-free gum.
  • Try some licorice or peppermint

Two Weeks After Quitting: Congratulations, You're On Your Way! But Stay Vigilant.

Congratulations! You've made it through the hardest part. To stay smoke-free, stick to what got you this far and really pay attention to how quitting is improving your life. Chances are you're starting to enjoy some of the benefits of quitting, like coughing less and having more energy, not to mention pride in your accomplishment. If you've been taking medication to help you quit, continue for at least 6 to 8 weeks—that’s the time needed for the medicine to help you stay tobacco-free. 

What if you slip? 

Try not to—not even once. But if you do, follow these tips to get back on track.

  • Don't let guilt lead you down the path to giving up. Instead, remember to be patient with yourself and that quitting takes practice. One or more slips do not mean failure. Each try is another step toward success.
  • Think about why you slipped and how to avoid it next time.
  • Get rid of any leftover cigarettes.
  • Try to spend time away from people who are still smoking.
  • Call a quitline for help.


Related Content

Quit Smoking Education Classes

Better Breathing Club

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Specialty Care: Pulmonary Medicine

Cancer Care



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