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Tools to Build a Smoke-free Life

Smoking is one of the hardest habits to break, but it can be done. Some smokers have to quit several times before actually breaking the habit. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States.

Different Ways To Quit Smoking

  1. Cold turkey - This is involves picking a day that you choose to quit smoking. Some pick a day 2 weeks or more out, others wake up one day and decide today is the day. Some pick an anniversary or birthday to quit.
  2. Medications - there are medications that have been marketed to help smokers quit smoking. While medication has helped some smokers to quit, these medications can come with side effects. Please discuss these with your health care provider.
  3. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) - There are several different types of NRT’s. Patches, gum and lozenges are the most common. Please make sure you read the packaging, so that you understand how and when to use the NRT.
  4. Behavioral therapy - This could involve meeting with a counselor or a Tobacco Treatment Specialist. During these meetings, the trained staff member would meet with you regularly to discuss your smoking habits and ways to help you quit. Many times the behavioral therapy can go hand in hand with using Nicotine Replacement Therapy.

How Do I Cope with Craving to Smoke?

Cravings usually last for 5-10 minutes and if you have something to help you though it, the craving will pass. To help you through cravings keep your mouth hands and body busy:

  • Cut a straw in half and use it for a hand/mouth craving.
  • Suck on hard candies
  • Chew sugar-free gum
  • Brush your teeth
  • Squeeze a stress ball
  • Do an activity that involves your hands (knitting, puzzles, crafts, wood-working)
  • Go for a walk
  • Keep marbles or coins in your pocket to hold onto and roll around in your hand
  • Call a friend

Support Someone Who is Quitting Smoking

Recognize that quitting smoking is a difficult process and the smoker may have many emotions going on during this time. Be patient and know that these emotions will be temporary.

  • Be positive and give the smoker encouragement on little accomplishments. For example: leave them a note letting them know you are thinking about them, and how proud you are that they are working so hard.
  • Try not to bring up smoking, or things that remind them of smoking. If they had a favorite place to smoke, clean it of anything that would remind them of smoking.
  • Celebrate their quit date like you would a birthday or anniversary. They worked hard to change a lifelong habit, they deserve a treat.
  • Ask your family or friend what they need from you. They know best how they are feeling and what might help.

Quitting smoking can be challenging, but if you equip yourself with the right tools, you too can be a non-smoker.

Learn more from our CHI Health Cancer Centers.

Tiffany Quicke, RRT, AE-C, TTS

Tiffany Quicke, RRT, AE-C, TTS is a Pulmonary Rehab Specialist, Certified Asthma Educator, and Tobacco Treatment Specialist.

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