Smoking & tobacco
Why do I smoke? Am I ready to quit?
Most people smoke for a few reasons. Before you set a quit date, take time to think about when, where, and why you smoke. If you understand your smoking habits and triggers, you'll have a better idea about:
- how to change your routine to avoid smoking
- what kind of quit smoking supports you might need
These are some common reasons people continue to smoke. Which ones are true for you?:
"Smoking gives me a boost."
You may feel that smoking gives you energy and keeps you going. Try to do other things that give you energy — a brisk walk or listening to music.
"Smoking gives me something to do with my hands."
Many ex-smokers have found creative ways to keep their hands busy. Try squeezing a stress ball, knitting, building a model airplane, or doodling on a pad of paper. Former smoker Jocelyn Kingston revived an old hobby to help her quit: "I went out and got myself an old Nintendo system and games and have been playing the games I used to love! It doesn't bother me not to smoke because I am not used to smoking while playing the video games. Seems a little silly, but it is working for me."
"It feels good."
Smoking can bring a brief feeling of pleasure and calm, but it comes with major health risks. Remind yourself of how smoking hurts your health. Put this information on your fridge or somewhere that you will see it every day. Choose exercise instead as a way to feel good and relieve stress.
Nicotine addiction is complex; your addiction to nicotine can be physical (your body craves it) and psychological (your mind craves it). Nicotine addiction is the main reason people find it hard to quit smoking. To overcome your nicotine addiction, it helps to learn about how people get addicted to cigarettes. And it helps to know about nicotine withdrawal symptoms and how you can cope with them.
"It's part of my everyday routine."
Figure out when and where you smoke. Then change your routine to avoid those situations. For example, clean out the ashtrays in your car if that's a place where you normally smoke. Picture yourself as a non-smoker in everyday situations.
"I'm afraid I'll gain weight."
Some people gain a bit of weight when they quit smoking. About 80% of people who quit smoking gain weight, but it's not much weight — the average weight gain is 5- 10 pounds. There are things you can do to keep off unwanted pounds:
- Don't replace cigarettes with high-calorie snacks; chose something healthy instead, like carrot sticks or pretzels
- Get regular exercise
- Make quitting smoking your number one goal and then deal with any weight gain later, if needed. Remember, the health risks of continuing to smoke are much more serious than the risks from gaining a few a pounds. And if you can succeed in quitting smoking, you definitely have what it takes to lose a few pounds. So focus on quitting smoking first, then deal with possible weight gain later. Former smoker Eugennie Mercredi actually lost weight after quitting: "I know some women are worried that they will gain weight if they stop smoking. But, you know, I used to weigh 245 lbs. when I smoked. Today, Iím still working on my weight, but through healthy eating, Iíve lost about 25 to 30 lbs."
The five stages of quitting readiness
Smokers commonly go through five stages as they think about quitting smoking. Each stage has different issues and challenges. Smokers often move back and forth between these stages.
Stage 1 -- I'm not even thinking about quitting
I like smoking
Smoking doesn't affect my health
I can't quit
Stage 2 -- I'm thinking about quitting
Why do I smoke?
What are the benefits if I quit?
What's holding me back?
Stage 3 -- I've decided to quit
How do I quit?
Where can I find information and support to help me quit?
Where do I start?
Stage 4 -- I'm quitting smoking
I'm proud of myself
It only hurts for a little while
My coping strategies are helpful
Stage 5 -- I've become a non-smoker
I like being a non-smoker
I celebrate my success
I know how to deal with cravings
Relapse -- I've started smoking again
Setbacks can happen, but it doesn't mean I'm a failure
I understand my triggers better
Each time I try to quit, I practice quitting for good
I will try to quit smoking again. This time I know what to expect and I'm prepared.