If you’re ready to give up smoking, take note: a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that smokers who abruptly stopped smoking altogether experienced higher long-term cessation rates than those who weaned off the habit by reducing their tobacco intake over time. So if you think you’re ready to kick the habit, here are some tips to help you go cold turkey:
- Be resolved. Mental preparation is key to your success. Plan ahead by creating a quit plan, which can include setting an official “quit date” and sharing your resolution with your loved ones.
- Plan for challenges. You can expect ups and downs when you quit smoking. Before your quit date, make a plan of action for when you experience cravings, feel stressed or spend time around people who smoke. Whether it’s chewing gum, calling a friend or going for a walk, it helps to have a ready list of healthy alternatives to offset cravings.
- Consider the available tools. Over-the-counter nicotine-replacement products, including nicotine patches, gum and lozenges, have been shown to be effective for helping smokers quit. Make sure you ask your doctor or pharmacist about what products are right for you and how to use them safely.
- Talk to your doctor. Research has found that brief advice and assistance from doctors — even just a 10-minute chat — can boost your odds of quitting. Doctors can also recommend oral medications, nicotine-replacement patches or inhalers that are only available with a prescription.
- Ask for help. One-on-one counseling, group counseling and programs that offer treatments and counseling over the phone have all been proven to help people quit smoking. Reaching out for support from friends and family is also helpful.
- Keep trying. Smoking is a tough habit to kick. Most smokers are addicted to nicotine, the chemical compound in tobacco, so it often takes a few tries to give up smoking for good. Try not to be discouraged if you’re not successful the first time.
As challenging as it might be to quit, it’s not impossible. In fact, since 2002, there have been more former smokers than current smokers in the U.S. – and soon you will become part of that club!
For additional support, UCLA Health offers an eight-week “Freedom From Smoking” program designed by the American Lung Association, and many of our physicians are experienced in smoking cessation. Learn more about UCLA’s smoking cessation treatment programs.
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