For most people who use tobacco, having a reason to quit tobacco isn’t as much a problem as knowing how to quit tobacco. Unfortunately, there isn’t one way that works for all tobacco users, but there are some key factors that seem to help most people.
First, make the decision to quit, and list out the top five reasons you want to quit (e.g., your health, the health of a loved one, tobacco policies at work or in the community, physical appearance, other). Keep these reasons visible as a constant reminder, such as in the kitchen, bathroom, car, on your desk or in your wallet.
Next, set a particular date to quit. Choose a date that will be significant to you, such as the first day of the month, New Year’s Day, a birthday, anniversary, holiday, or try World No Tobacco Day (May 31) to get you started on a clean slate with lots of motivation.
The third step is getting ready to quit. Choose the quit method that appeals most to you. Most people choose to go “cold turkey,” which means they throw away all their tobacco and don’t use any from the day they decide to quit. Don’t forget to throw away all of your tobacco products and remove all lighters from your environment. If “cold turkey” doesn’t sound right for you, try nicotine fading or tapering off. Nicotine fading is for those who smoke cigarettes. It involves switching to a cigarette with a lower level of nicotine so you can bring your addiction to nicotine down before you quit smoking. Here’s how it works:
n If you’re smoking a high-nicotine brand, switch to a medium-nicotine brand.
n If you’re smoking a medium-nicotine brand, switch to a low-nicotine brand.
n If you’re smoking a low-nicotine brand, just switch to a different low-nicotine brand.
Tapering off works in a similar way to nicotine fading, but rather than reducing the nicotine level, you reduce the amount of nicotine you’re using. Tapering off can be used for all types of tobacco use because you just reduce the amount (e.g., fewer cigarettes or cigars, less chew or snuff, etc.). This method also helps you gradually reduce the amount of nicotine in your body, preparing you for your quit date when you will stop using tobacco completely.
Once you’ve quit, you will want to make sure you have a support system in place. Support can come from family and friends who are willing to keep you accountable, but it also can come from a group, one-on-one, a former smoker or a telephone quit line. Check with your employer, health insurance company or local hospital for help finding support groups. Try a smoking cessation group program, or check out a quit line such as the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) for support and resources. You also can talk with your health-care providers, which can include doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, psychologists, nutritionists/dieticians and smoking counselors. Tobacco cessation medication also can help you quit. Talk with your doctor about available medications - their benefits and potential side effects - to decide if medication (even over-the counter-medication) is right for you.
Finally, know how to maintain your quit status. Decide now how you will deal with obstacles and potential relapse. Avoid or seek strategies for difficult situations, and never look at a “slip” in tobacco use as a failure. Think of how far you have come, and don’t smoke the whole pack. Recognize the slip, put the tobacco away and continue with your quit success. Reward yourself for short-term goals as you go through the process of quitting.
For more information, contact Patrice Dunagin, Smith County FCS agent for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, at 903-590-2980.