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Staying Smoke-Free

Quitting smoking is a big change. People will congratulate you. You have the right to be proud. But later at times you may miss smoking. Plan ahead to resist temptation.

Prepare to be tempted

  • If you feel the urge to smoke, distract yourself for about 5 to 15 minutes. Drink water. Call a friend, take a walk, or try deep breathing. Chew gum. Usually, the urge to smoke will pass.

  • Don’t trust yourself to have “just 1 cigarette.” Many ex-smokers get hooked again that way.

  • Remind yourself why you quit. Tell yourself you can stay smoke-free.

  • Stay away from people or places that can trigger you to smoke. Ask others not to smoke in your home or car.

  • Spend time in places where you can’t smoke, such as a museum, a library, a store, or a gym.

  • Take your nonsmoking life 1 day at a time. Mark each day on your calendar.

  • HALT your desire. Keep yourself from feeling too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Deal with your real needs. Eat, talk, or sleep.

  • Reward yourself! Put aside cigarette money and buy yourself a treat.

  • Talk with your healthcare provider about using quit-smoking products. These include medicine or a nicotine patch, inhaler, nasal spray, gum, or lozenges. These can help increase your success by reducing urges.

Woman relaxing in chair with eyes closed.
Deep breathing can help ease the urge to smoke.

If you slip

You may slip and smoke again. Many ex-smokers slip on the way to success. If you do, it’s not the end of your quit process. Think about what triggered you to smoke. Then think of ways to prevent future slips. Ask yourself what you can learn from the slip. Decide how you will handle this trigger better in the future. Then get back on track—right away!

Don’t give up

Keep telling yourself you’re no longer a smoker. Don’t lose hope. Most people have tried to quit several times before being successful. Try to stay focused on your plan to be smoke-free. Keep in mind all the benefits of quitting. Millions of people have given up smoking. You can too.

Online Medical Reviewer: Eric Perez MD
Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2022
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