Alex Hudson/ Drug Information Center
Quitting cigarettes sucks. It’s really hard. People who are quitting tend to get crabby, hungry and easily agitated. But the thing is, there is every reason in the world to quit. Smoking is expensive, it gives you stinky mouth and hands, it can be a turn-off for potential kissing partners, and it causes cancer along with a laundry list of other health problems of which I am sure you are all well aware.
This isn’t meant to be some tirade against smokers, because they are people too, and they get crapped on enough by society. But some people are ready to quit, and could use some tips on how to make that happen. And if you are a smoker, and aren’t ready to quit, that’s cool too. But if and when you are ready, know that there are a million people and organizations out there to help you.
There are lots of websites dedicated to helping people stop smoking cigarettes, and the advice they give is decent, but fairly general. We’ll go over some of it and then I’m going to dish little tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way.
First things first, you have to really want to quit. It can’t be one of those wishy-washy “Oh, I think maybe I’ll stop smoking” things, you gotta feel the burning in your soul (or lungs) that tells you now is the time.
To remind yourself of how badly you want to quit, write it down. Make a list of everything you hate about smoking, and all the reasons you want to be smoke free. Put copies of this list everywhere so you see it all the time. Every time you want to light one up, take your list out and read it.
It is very important to pick a day to quit and stick with it. Make it be a symbolic day that means something to you. Valentine’s Day is this week, and perhaps a way to show yourself how much you love yourself is to try and quit smoking.
Once you have your day picked out, you need to set the stage for the smoke free you to make the debut. Throw out your matches, lighters and ash trays. Don’t let people smoke in your house or car. Tell everyone you know you are a former smoker so you are publicly committed to it. Blog about it if necessary, update your facebook status, post a myspace bulletin or something. People will probably give you high-fives and tell you how awesome it is that you are quitting, and this kind of positive reinforcement can only help, so milk it.
People get worried that if they quit smoking, they are going to gain weight. Studies show that most people tend to gain about 10 pounds when they quit. Not a big deal. Use the stress and agitation from quitting to get your butt to the gym. Run it off; you’ll avoid the crabbiness and depression and stave off the weight gain.
Another important tip is to avoid the party lifestyle. If I had a dime for every person who “quit smoking” only to bum a smoke the second they get a little bit of the sauce in them, I’d probably have at least two dollars. Keep away from parties and bars and six-packs in the living room for a while, and you significantly increase your chances of success.
If you are trying to quit, talking to your doctor or some other health professional can be extremely beneficial. Washington state runs the Tobacco Quit Line which can be reached at 1-800-QUIT-NOW. They offer counseling, a personalized quit plan, can hook you up with resources and programs, and will send you a Tobacco Quit Kit.
Something very useful is to have other things to do with your hands and mouth to satisfy the oral fixation of smoking. Snack on raisins or sunflower seeds, and drink lots of water.
Remember the fake cigarettes that Margot uses in The Royal Tenenbaums? Well, those actually exist and can help with the nicotine cravings. There are also other nicotine substitutes like the gum, and the patch. Interestingly, if you wear the patch over night you can get crazy vivid dreams, which is pretty cool.
In closing, here are some random and interesting tips I found in my research. Put a rubber band around your wrist and every time you want a cigarette, give it a snap. Take all the money you would be spending on cigarettes and put in a jar. At the one month mark, take all the cash out and buy yourself something special. I also recommend YouTube-ing “quit smoking” and checking out all the sweet video montages. They may not be ultra-helpful, but you’ll get a laugh, which can be useful for countering the crabbiness. Also, Google image smoker’s lung. That should really do the trick.
And remember, it’s okay to just work on cutting back. Try not bringing cigarettes to campus, or hanging out places where smoking is not allowed.
It’s also important to remember that quitting is really hard. Most people have to try a few times before they kick the habit for good and you shouldn’t let a relapse discourage you.
Good luck my dears.