LIKE learning to ride a bicycle, giving up tobacco is rarely accomplished the first time you try. So if you are determined to quit, you should be prepared to make repeated attempts until you are successful. Do not view a relapse as a defeat. Think of it as a learning experience, a small setback in what can be a successful program. Here are some suggestions that have worked for others. They may work well for you too.
Prepare Your Mind to Quit
■ First, you must convince yourself that quitting is worth the effort. List your reasons for wanting to quit, including all the benefits. After you have quit, reviewing this list will strengthen your resolve. A desire to please God is the greatest motive for quitting. The Bible says that we should love God with our whole mind, heart, soul, and strength. That is something we cannot do if we are addicted to tobacco.—Mark 12:30.
■ Analyze your smoking habits to figure out when and why you smoke. You may find it helpful to record on paper when and where you smoke each cigarette during a typical day. This will help you to foresee situations that may tempt you to smoke after you do quit.
Plan a Quit Date
■ Choose a quit date, and mark it on your calendar. It is best to choose a day when you will not be under undue outside stress. When that day arrives, quit completely—abruptly and totally.
■ Before the quit date arrives, get rid of ashtrays, matches, and lighters. Clean all your clothes that smell of tobacco smoke.
■ Enlist the support of coworkers, friends, and family to encourage you in your efforts to quit. Do not be afraid to ask others not to smoke in your presence.
■ Plan activities for your quit day. You might go somewhere where smoking is not permitted, such as to a museum or a theater. You could also exercise—swim or take a bicycle ride or a long walk.
Dealing With Withdrawal
If you are a heavy smoker, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms, which begin within hours of smoking the last cigarette. These may include irritability, impatience, hostility, anxiety, depression, insomnia, restlessness, increased appetite, and a craving for cigarettes. Perhaps your doctor can prescribe medication that will help ease these symptoms. In addition, there are things you can do to help you win the battle.
■ During the first few difficult weeks, eat low-calorie foods, and drink plenty of water. Some have found it helpful to snack on raw vegetables, such as carrots or celery. If you exercise, you will help offset weight gain and soothe jittery nerves.
■ Avoid places and situations where you will be tempted to smoke.
■ Fight against bad reasoning that may tempt you to smoke. Here are some common thoughts during withdrawal: ‘I’ll smoke just today to get me through this tough time.’ ‘Smoking is my only vice!’ ‘Tobacco can’t be all that bad; some heavy smokers live to be over 90.’ ‘I’ve got to die of something.’ ‘Life is no fun without tobacco.’
■ If you are about to give in, delay. By waiting just ten minutes, the acute craving may pass. Sometimes the thought of never smoking again might seem overwhelming. If you feel that way, concentrate on quitting just for today.
■ If you want to serve God, pray for help. Our loving Creator can provide “help at the right time” for those who are striving to bring their lives into harmony with his will. (Hebrews 4:16) But don’t expect a miracle. You must act in harmony with your prayers.
Remain an Ex-smoker
■ The first three months are the most difficult, but even after that you should, when possible, avoid smokers and situations that may tempt you to smoke.
■ Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can be an occasional smoker, even if you have stopped smoking for a year or more.
■ Resist the temptation to have “just one cigarette.” Just one may easily lead to others, and soon you will have undone all the hard work you put into quitting. However, if you do weaken and have a cigarette, there is no reason to smoke another. If you relapse, quit again.
Millions of smokers have successfully quit. With determination and persistence, you can too!