Create a plan to quit smoking: Eight tips to help you get started

Most people know that smoking is bad for them, but it seems as though few know how to quit. The key to successfully quitting smoking is being prepared. The following tips from Smokefree.gov can help you create a plan.

  • Pick a quit date. When it comes to choosing a quit date, sooner is always better than later. Avoid picking a day when you will be busy, stressed, or tempted to smoke. Circle your quit date on a calendar and write it somewhere that will be a constant reminder. Put reminders anywhere you feel necessary to make sure your quit date does not slip your mind. Start reducing the amount per day gradually until quit day to help avoid going “cold turkey.”
  • Let everyone know you want to stop. Quitting smoking is easier with support from people in your life. Let them know that you are planning to quit and explain how they can help you. Do not be afraid to let your loved ones know that you need help!
  • Remove reminders of smoking. Throw it all away! Do not hold on to an emergency pack of cigarettes or stash away extra lighters. Every reminder you have of that nasty habit will make it harder for you to quit.
  • Identify your reasons to quit smoking. Remind yourself every day why you are quitting!  Whether you want to stop smoking to be healthier or just to save money, your reason to stop must be important to you. Your reason for quitting may be the one thing keeping you from falling back into old habits.
  • Identify your smoking triggers. Make a list of everything that makes you feel like smoking. Write down one way you can deal with or avoid each item on your list. Keep this list handy while you are trying to quit and refer to it when you are struggling.
  • Have places you can turn to for help. Quitting smoking is hardest during the first few weeks. You will deal with uncomfortable feelings, temptations to smoke, withdrawal symptoms, and cigarette cravings. Whether it is a support group or a good friend, always make sure you have support available.
  • Have a nicotine replacement therapy plan. Quitting “cold turkey” isn’t helpful for most people. Set up an appointment with your primary care provider or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to start a conversation about the different products available (nicotine patches, medications, etc.) before quitting.
  • Slip-ups are normal. No one is perfect. Choosing to quit smoking is a difficult decision to make once it’s become a habit. There might be times that you are under a significant amount of stress or pressure and you slip-up. While this is normal, realize there is a difference between slipping up and relapsing back into your smoking habit. Be conscious of the amount of nicotine you are using with your quit date in mind. It’s better to continue using, but at lower amounts, than to fall back into your normal usage.

If you are already on your journey to being smoke-free, you deserve a pat on the back. You are one step closer to living a healthier life!

For those of you who are thinking about quitting, the UofL Health – Healthy Lifestyle Centers are here for you. There are three convenient locations in the Louisville area and one in Shelbyville:

  • UofL Health – Jewish Hospital
  • UofL Health – Mary & Elizabeth Hospital
  • UofL Health – Medical Center Northeast
  • UofL Health – Shelbyville Hospital

The Healthy Lifestyle Centers have certified smoking cessation educators on staff to help you through your new journey. For more information, call 502-581-0110.

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About Jessica Himes, BSN, RN-BC

Jessica Himes, BSN, RN-BC, is supervisor for the UofL Health - Healthy Lifestyle Centers at Jewish Hospital, Mary & Elizabeth Hospital, Shelbyville Hospital and Medical Center Northeast. The UofL Health – Healthy Lifestyle Centers provide hands-on medically-supervised exercise in state-of-the art facilities. Using a broad range of exercise, nutrition, and stress management techniques, they promote well-being in body, mind and spirit. Through lifestyle interventions, they address chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity and more. Program offerings include cardiac rehabilitation, pulmonary rehabilitation, supervised exercise therapy, and lifestyle medicine.

All posts by Jessica Himes, BSN, RN-BC