Quitting tobacco is not easy as tobacco dependence is a cluster of behavioral, cognitive and physiological phenomena. Very few tobacco users can successfully quit the habit in their first attempt. But the evidence is strong that it can be done. From quit lines to counselling to prescription medicines, there are numerous effective ways to quit.
Your first step to quitting is to develop a quit plan. Here are key elements of a successful quit plan as outlined by the STAR acronym.
1. Set a quit date. It is important to set a quit date as soon as possible. Giving yourself a short period to quit will keep you focused and motivated to achieve your goal. Choosing your birthday or some other meaningful day is a good idea, but you don’t have to always follow suit. You can start quitting today!
2. Tell your friends, family, and coworkers. It is important to share your goal to quit with those you interact frequently.
• Ask them for support. They can support you by reminding you of your goal to quit and encouraging you to not give in to temptations like cravings. By telling your friends, family, and coworkers you might also inspire those of them who smoke to create a quit plan with you. Having a “quit buddy” is a great way to keep both of you accountable and on track to quitting.
• Ask them for understanding. If you have friends or family that smoke, it is a good idea to ask them to refrain from lighting up when you’re around!
3. Anticipate challenges to the upcoming quit attempt. Quitting smoking is no easy feat, so you are brave and courageous for committing to this goal! It’s important that you anticipate triggers and challenges in the upcoming attempt, particularly during the critical first few weeks. The first few days and weeks will be the hardest due to potential nicotine withdrawal symptoms as well as the obstacles presented by breaking any habit (see more information below on how to successfully overcome them).
4. Remove tobacco products from your environment. It’s important to minimize exposure to smoking cues. If the tobacco products are still around, you will be more tempted to pick them up and smoke. It’s best to rid yourself of such temptations by making a smoke free house, avoiding smoking areas, and asking your peers to not smoke around you. If you live with other smokers who are not yet ready to quit, ask them to smoke outside the home and cars to best achieve your smoke-free environment.