If just the thought of quitting smoking seems impossible (especially if you’ve tried before), it’s important to remember that there are many people working to overcome the same exact hurdle you are, and doing it successfully. In fact, according to new data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking was down to an all time low in 2017, with only 14 percent of U.S. adults saying they were current smokers. This is down from 15.5 percent in 2016, and is a 67 percent decline since 1965.
According to both the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), one of the best ways to ditch smoking for good is to make a quit plan. Write down the steps to your personalized plan to hold yourself accountable. Put your plan somewhere visible, such as on the refrigerator, to serve as a constant reminder of what you’re working toward. Here’s how to make a quit plan and what to include in yours.
How to Make Your Personalized Quit Smoking Plan
1. Pick a start date
Both the ACS and NCI say having a concrete date where you will not have any more cigarettes is key to quitting. But this doesn’t mean you can schedule it in the future or after your social calendar has quieted down. Make it within two weeks from when you start planning and let your friends and family know so they can help you stick to that date.
2. Make a vision board
This might sound a little cheesy, but putting visual reminders — whether they’re pictures on your wall or a list taped to your bedroom mirror of why you’re quitting — can help you see the bigger picture when cigarette cravings try to take over. This can be anything from financial reasons (Cigarettes are expensive!) to your family, your health, or all of the above. The more reasons you have to quit, the more enticing kicking the habit will be.
3. Rearrange your schedule to beat cravings
If there’s a certain time of day that makes you want a cigarette (such as your lunch break), do something different than you normally would, such as going for a walk outside instead of chatting with your coworkers during their smoke break. If your primary way of socializing is while smoking, find different activities you can do with your friends and family, such as a weekly standing coffee date instead.
4. Set up a support system
Having a number of tools ready for you to fall back on when you need it is essential. Who are the people you can call when you’re feeling like you want to start smoking again? What about a hotline, website (like Quit.com — which is designed to provide quitting support in the form of info and targeted, customized emails) or an app if you’re not feeling comfortable enough to have a friend or family member on call? It may also be a good idea to utilize smoking cessation productions, like Nicorette Coated Lozenges or a NicoDerm CQ Nicotine Patch. The only FDA-approved coated lozenge, Nicorette’s Coated Ice Mint Lozenge helps provide lasting craving relief even after the lozenge dissolves. The NicoDerm CQ patch helps you beat the urge to smoke throughout the day by delivering therapeutic nicotine so you can quit.
Making sure you have a support arsenal ready to go before you need it will prevent you from scrambling for resources at the same time you’re trying to fight cravings.
5. Celebrate yourself
Quitting smoking is a huge deal, and one that should be celebrated! Enjoy the milestones you hit with your support group, whether it be dinner out or a fun trip to toast to your new life and health with those who have been helping you along the way.