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At Last, Quit Smoking for Good

7 tips for quitting cigarettes.


If you want to lower the risk for you and those around you of serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, cancer, the most important step you can take to manage your condition is to quit smoking.

Your second most important step is to live in a smoke-free environment.

Quitting cigarettes can make the difference between living longer and well - and not living at all. The good news is smoking is a risk factor you can control. Here’s how.

1. Set a Date to Quit Smoking

If you want to quit smoking, it helps to set a quit date. Setting a date to quit formalizes the attempt to quit. And while it may still take several attempts, the likelihood of permanently quitting goes up with each attempt you make. As the date approaches, stay mentally and emotionally focused on this date as a time for new beginnings and better health.

2. Expect to Feel Miserable

When you first quit smoking, it will be rough. You might feel miserable, irritable, even depressed. But according to the American Lung Association, nicotine clears out of the system quickly. For a few weeks, you might feel hungrier than normal. Once you get past the first few days, though, you will begin to feel more in control. Keep sugarless gum or hard candy in your pocket during this time as a short-term “fix” when you crave a cigarette.

3. Remove Smoking Triggers

A smoking trigger is anything your brain has connected with smoking. Everyone’s smoking triggers are different. Your smoking trigger may be the smell of cigarette smoke, your morning coffee, or spotting an ashtray. Remove anything that reminds them of smoking.”

4. Try Nicotine Replacements

Nicotine replacements are medications that reduce a person’s craving for smoking. Nicotine replacement treatments (NRT), include nicotine gum, patches, inhalers, and lozenges.

The replacement therapy works by putting nicotine in your system without the buzz that comes with smoking. However, the treatments supply enough nicotine to halt withdrawal symptoms. Chances for success are higher for those who use stop smoking aids. Up to 50% of people who use nicotine replacement will stop smoking.

5. Ask About Drugs Advised by Doctors for Helping Quit.

There are two approved drugs available that can help people quit smoking. The first is Zyban. It’s also known as the antidepressant Wellbutrin. Zyban helps some people quit smoking by reducing nicotine cravings. It may also curb your appetite. Another prescription drug is Chantix. It works indirectly on the metabolism of nicotine. Chantix helps to overcome the chemical dependency by blocking the pleasant effects nicotine has on the brain.

Both drugs have the most serious type of warning in prescription drug labeling. The warning includes reports on symptoms such as changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, and suicidal thoughts (thinking about harming or killing oneself or planning or trying to do so) while taking either of these medications to stop smoking.

6. Know Why You Crave Cigarettes

If you are a smoker and have tried to quit before, you may feel guilty now. You may be embarrassed by your failure to stop smoking and worry that others are judging you. The cycle of quitting and then going back to smoking is due to the powerful addiction which creates strong cravings for cigarettes. Even those who have been able to stop smoking for years can get the urge to smoke again.

7. Get Support or Counseling

One way to deal with the stress of quitting -- and increase the odds that you’ll quit for good -- is to consider group or individual counseling. Always talk to your doctor to get help.


Quitting Cigarettes for Good

So if cigarettes are so addictive, can you quit smoking for good? Yes. Anyone who wants to quit smoking has a 3% to 5% chance of quitting. Most patients who do quit smoking have to try several times. But each time you try to quit, you have another 5% chance. Your chances of quitting cigarettes, once and for all adds up over time. For example, say you’re on your fourth try to quit smoking. This means you may have a 20% chance of really making it:

stop smoking tries X 5% chance = 20% chance of making it

The odds are increasingly in your favor the more attempts you make to quit smoking cigarettes.