By SMH Lung Cancer Screening Coordinator Amie Miller
If you’re a smoker, the good news is that it’s never too late to quit! We know smoking is one of the hardest habits to break, so here are some tips to help you quit smoking and stay quit.
Tips for Quitting Smoking
- Make a plan & get ready. Review your past attempts to quit. Think about what worked and what didn't. Use this knowledge to your advantage.
- Set a quit date. Pick a date within the next two weeks. Think about choosing a day that’s special to you, such as your birthday or a holiday, if it's within two weeks.
- On that date, throw away ALL cigarettes, lighters, matches, and ashtrays in your home, car, and place of work.
- Don't let people smoke in your home or car.
- Once you quit, don't smoke again. NOT EVEN A PUFF! Even just one drag of a cigarette can cause you to start smoking again—and you don’t want to make all of your hard work for naught.
Tips for Staying Quit
The more support and counseling you have, the better your chances are of quitting and staying tobacco-free. SMH’s Lung Health team recommends reaching out to family, friends or a support group to take the next steps to kick the habit.
- Tell family, friends, and coworkers that you are going to quit smoking so they can support your commitment. Ask them not to smoke around you or to offer you cigarettes.
- Get individual, group or tele- counseling. The more support and counseling you have, the better your chances are of quitting.
- Plan something enjoyable to do every day.
- Make a list of the reasons you want to quit. Keep that list handy, and pull it out whenever you get the urge to light up.
- Connect with community organizations that sponsor quit-smoking clinics or other activities that will support you in quitting smoking. Reach out to Tobacco Free Florida to talk to a trained Quit Coach and begin your tobacco free journey (call 877-822-6669). Your coach will help assess your addiction and create a personalized quit plan. You’ll also be eligible to receive a free 2-week starter kit of nicotine patches, gum or lozenges. Likewise, Gulf Coast South Area Health Education Center (AHEC) offers free, virtual seminars and support groups. Registration is required; call 866-534-7909.
Remember the 4 D’s: Delay, Distract, Drink water and Deep Breath
- Try to distract yourself when you get the urge to smoke. Talk to someone, go for a walk or get busy with a task.
- Drink a lot of water when you feel the urge to smoke.
- Meditate, chant or think positively about quitting and breaking the smoking habit for good!
- Do something healthy to reduce your stress: Listen to music, go to the beach, do aerobics or dance to your favorite music.
- Change your routine. Use a different route to work. Drink tea instead of coffee. Talk to your doctor or other healthcare providers. Consider using the nicotine patch, nicotine gum, nicotine lozenges to help you stay off cigarettes. Ask them about medications that can reduce your craving to smoke; these include bupropion SR or Varenicline, but remember that these medications are not be for everyone.
- Avoid drinking alcohol. It lowers your chances of success.
- Spend more time with friends who do not smoke. Being around smokers can make you want to smoke.
- If you're in a bad mood or feel depressed, try a new activity. Take a walk, talk to a friend or meditate to improve your mood.
Be kind to yourself if you do not have immediate success. Remind yourself why you wanted to quit. If do you slip, do not be discouraged. Try again!
The truth is that many adult cigarette smokers want to quit smoking. Help is available, and it is free in many cases. It’s never too late to quit!
SMH Lung Cancer Screening Coordinator Amie Miller, MSN, ARNP, AOCNP, CTTS, is an Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner and Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist. Through her work, she aims to help those at high risk detect lung cancer at its earliest stages and to help smokers reduce their cancer risks by quitting smoking.