On the Road to Quitting: Guide to becoming a non–smoker for young adults
This guide would not have been possible without the collaborative efforts of many individuals and organizations. Health Canada gratefully acknowledges the supportive efforts and contributions of Rosa Dragonetti, MSc, Manager, Nicotine Dependence Clinic and Tobacco Control Projects -- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ont.; Janice Forsythe, BA (Hons)--Principal Consultant, Cypress Consulting, Ottawa, Ont.; Larisa Hausmanis, MD, BA (Hons)--Physician, Sherbourne Health Centre and Toronto Public Health, Toronto, Ont.; Kelli-an Lawrance, PhD--Associate Professor, Community Health Sciences Department, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ont.; Peter Selby, MBBS, CCFP Clinical Director, Addictions Program Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Associate Professor, Departments of Family and Community Medicine, Psychiatry and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont.; Patricia Smith, PhD--Associate Professor, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Thunder Bay, Ont.; and Louise Walker, BA, BSc (Hons)--Retired Health Consultant, Waterloo, Ont.
- What Do You Really Want?
- Let's Get Started
- The Facts
- Examining the Habit
- Examining the Addiction
- Challenging Your Doubts... and Yourself
- Bah! The Stress!
- Are You Ready?
- It's Time to Set a Quit Date!
- Don't Go it Alone
- Do it Your Way!
- Positively Prepared!
- The Day Has Arrived! Put Your Game Face On!
- Ugh... Withdrawal
- The Power of Positive Thinking
- You Quit! Now What?
- Emergency Plan
- Never Give Up, Even if You Slip!
- Money, Money, Money!
- What? Weight Gain?!
What Do You Really Want?
No matter how near or far you are from your goal of quitting smoking, this booklet will help you figure out what you want to do and provide the information you need to move forward. The steps are simple, and will help you quit smoking* and stay quit. On the Road to Quitting provides you with the facts, some food for thought, and ultimately arms you with the skills and motivation needed to make a plan when you're ready to quit.
Quitting smoking can be challenging. Think of it as a new adventure. Refer back to this booklet whenever you have a question or need support to help in the process of quitting smoking.
To get thinking, consider this:
- What made you pick up this booklet today?
- Why do you smoke?
- What is making you consider quitting?
- What would give you the final push to quit?
Let's Get Started
What is keeping you from quitting smoking?
Everyone who smokes has their reasons for doing so. It may be a result of different habits, an addiction or, in most cases, both. You may like how it makes you look or feel. You may feel it helps you relax, gives you energy, or helps you deal with stress. It may be something you share with others. Seriously consider why you started and continue smoking.
What is making you consider quitting now?
There are many reasons why you may decide to quit smoking. But what are the reasons that make you want to quit? Are you concerned about:
- long-term health risks
- premature aging
- stinky clothes and bad breath
- wasting money because of the cost of smoking
- having to go outside in the cold for a smoke
- exposing friends and family members to second-hand smoke
- add one of your reasons here
- add another one of your reasons here
More to consider...
Why let nicotine tie you down?
If you are one of the Canadians who occasionally has a cigarette, you already know that your smoking pattern is different than that of a regular, daily smoker. You may not see any need to quit smoking. However, no matter how much or how little you smoke, there are many good reasons to stop altogether.
Quitting is the single best thing you can do to improve your life and health.
Examining the Habit
Is smoking something you do without thinking?
If you're like most smokers, you probably reach for a cigarette automatically when you do or feel certain things, when you're with other smokers, or as a part of your daily routine.
What are your smoking "triggers"?
Learning to recognize your smoking "triggers" is an important part of quitting. Ask yourself when, where and how often you smoke. Common triggers include:
- drinking coffee or alcohol
- feeling stressed or angry
- talking on the phone
- relaxing after work, school or after a meal
Use the guide's tracking card insert to record what you're doing and feeling each time you reach for a cigarette.
Note: If you're reading this guide online, you can order a paper copy to obtain your tracking card.
There are many ways to break the association. What would work for you?
How can you break the association between smoking and your routines (at work, at school, at home, with friends and family, etc.)?
Anticipate your triggers. Try to delay lighting up by keeping your hands and mouth busy with other things. Instead of reaching for a cigarette:
- drink a glass of cold water
- brush your teeth
- enjoy a low-calorie snack
You could also:
- take a walk
- browse the web
- text a friend or talk on the phone
Before you smoke, ask yourself these questions:
- Can I do without this cigarette?
- Do I even really want to smoke?
- Can I wait or do something else?
Examining the Addiction
How many times have you felt this uncomfortable feeling? How many times have you worried about how or when you will have your next cigarette?
Imagine a life without this...
Challenging Your Doubts... and Yourself
Do you have doubts whether you can or will quit?
Have you ever said to yourself...
- I'll quit when I'm 30
- I'll quit when I get married
- I'll quit when I get my new place, new car, etc.
- I'll quit before I have kids
What else have you said to yourself about quitting smoking?
If you have had similar thoughts, you should know they are common. Why do they occur? Is it because you are not ready? Or is it because of something else? You may think you don't have the willpower or motivation. You may have slipped before and are worried about disappointing yourself and others again.
Fears and doubts are normal. There are thousands of former smokers who also had similar concerns and have successfully quit. What's important is to examine those concerns and plan to deal with them in a positive way.
- Remember, quitting isn't one big challenge--it's a series of small ones. Take it one minute, one hour and one day at a time.
- If you are concerned about weight gain, keep this in mind: the health benefits of quitting smoking are immediate and significant. The risks associated with continued smoking, however, far exceed the risks of a minor weight gain. The average long-term weight gain for people who quit is about 4–6 kg (8–13 lbs). Healthy eating and an active lifestyle can help prevent or minimize that. 23
- Some of your friends will be impressed by your strength and determination to quit. Who knows, you may even inspire a few of your friends to quit as well! 24
Bah! The Stress!
Smoking causes stress
Is the thought of quitting stressing you out? Quitting smoking can be stressful but there are ways to manage it.
- Don't worry! Talk to a friend about what is bothering you.
- Plan regular, scheduled breaks for yourself like you may have done when you smoked.
- Do things you enjoy like reading, texting, tweeting, or listening to music.
- Take the opportunity to start something new like yoga or taking walks.
- Plan regular rewards to celebrate your accomplishments.
- Maintain a healthy diet and eat at regular intervals.
- Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. This can help improve your mood and the quality of your sleep.
- Practice relaxation breathing exercises--breathing in through your nose, expanding your stomach (rather than your chest) and then exhaling through pursed lips.
Are You Ready?
Check out Health Canada's additional information and tools on smoking cessation. Complete the Personal Profile questionnaire to help you understand why you smoke, your level of addiction and how you can stop.
If you're ready to quit, the next section will help you follow through!
It's Time to Set a Quit Date!
Now that you're ready to quit, it's time to make a commitment
Lots of people quit spontaneously, but if you like to plan things in life, pick a specific day when you plan to quit. Think about what you have planned for the next few weeks. Choose a time that's right for you! You may want to give yourself enough time to think things out and prepare. For example, find a week when you have no major deadlines at work or school. You may also want to begin on a weekend so you can plan some activities that will keep your mind off cigarettes.
No more excuses!
Don't take forever!
Choose a date no more than three weeks away from today. Mark it on every calendar, add it as a screensaver to your computer desktop, create a reminder on your cell phone, etc. Look at it every day as a reminder. Each time you look at it, remind yourself that it is an opportunity. Remember why you want to quit and think of all the benefits of being smoke-free.
Having a good plan increases your chances of success. Writing it down is a good idea because it requires you to think more carefully about what you need to do and how you will do it. You can find some tips about preparing your own action plan refer to the Emergency Plan section of this guide.
Don't Go it Alone
We recommend that you speak to a health care professional when you are planning to quit. Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist will be able to provide you with advice on nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) and stop smoking medications. They can also refer you to other possible sources of support to stop smoking.
Talk, text and tweet all about it!
If you keep it to yourself, it may be easier to change your mind. Telling your family, friends and co-workers that you're quitting gives you another reason to stay focused. It will also encourage them to help you when you need support. Don't be afraid to tell your friends who smoke about your decision to quit. Tell them how they can help you. Don't worry if they are less than enthusiastic. Remember, just because you're ready to quit, it doesn't mean they are. Let them know that whenever or if ever they are ready to quit, you will be there to support them!
Choose a quit buddy
You might want to talk to someone if you need extra help to resist the urge to smoke. Tell a close friend what you plan to do. Let them know you might need their support. Explain how they can help you.
You might also consider calling the toll-free pan-Canadian quitline for telephone support from a trained quit smoking specialist. The quit smoking specialist can help you develop a quit plan, answer your questions and refer you to other cessation services in your community. You can also order self-help materials through the quitline. There is no charge for quitline counselling services.
For more information visit the pan-Canadian quit line web portal at www.gosmokefree.gc.ca/quit or call 1-866-366-3667.
Do it Your Way!
The following are some suggested methods that can help you quit.
Some quit suddenly
Just do it! This means deciding to quit abruptly, often without using NRT or stop smoking medication.
Some plan ahead
Prior to setting a quit date you will need to take the time to understand where and how you smoke, mentally prepare to break your smoking patterns and deal with possible withdrawal symptoms. Part of your preparation may include considering the NRT that's right for you. Your health care professional can provide you with valuable information about stop smoking medications. You may also decide to seek out counselling as part of your quitting strategy. Planning also involves deciding on a quit method. For example you may want to quit completely or slowly reduce how much you smoke.
Some cut back before completely quitting
"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve themselves."
Some ideas to help you cut back
- Each time you reach for a cigarette, stop and think "Can I skip this one?"
- Wait five or ten minutes before acting on your urge to smoke.
- Smoke less of each cigarette than you normally would.
- Carry only enough cigarettes to get you through the day and refuse to get more.
- Every day or two, reduce the amount you smoke. Cut down as much as you can.
- Try delaying your first cigarette of the day by at least two hours.
Here are some suggestions on how to develop a quit smoking plan:
1. Refer back to your list about why quitting is important to you
Add as much detail as possible. Who else will benefit from your decision to quit? Try to imagine how you'll look without a cigarette or feel about yourself. Think what you'll be able to do with all the money you'll save. To see how much you can save, try the cost calculator tool at the following link: www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/health-sante/tobacco-tabac/index-eng.php.
2. List your concerns about quitting
Write down next to each concern one or more things you can do to overcome it.
- Slipping: I will keep trying, find out my trigger(s) and learn from this experience.
- Weight gain: I will drink lots of water, snack on veggies and get more exercise.
- Irritability: I will do relaxation breathing exercises and tell my friends I need their support and understanding.
Use your past quit attempts to your advantage. What worked? What didn't? What haven't you tried yet?
4. Tap into your social support network
Most people underestimate the support they'll get from their family and friends. List the people you can count on for help. Who can you text or call when you need support the most? Who can help you when you crave a cigarette? Who can help you avoid tempting situations?
Don't worry. There are more tips on dealing with withdrawal in the Ugh... Withdrawal section of his guide.
5. Identify your smoking patterns and triggers
Before you quit, use your tracking card to record how much you smoked, where you smoked, who you were with, as well as what you were thinking, feeling and doing immediately before, during and after you smoked. Review the notes after one week to see if you can find any smoking patterns. For example, does the amount you smoke change depending on who you were with, where you were, what you were doing or how you were feeling?
6. Decide how to change the things that remind you of smoking
If coffee reminds you of smoking, switch to tea. If you tend to smoke in a certain chair, sit in another chair or go outside. Remove all ashtrays. Changing your routine can help you create new habits that are not associated with smoking and avoid triggers.
7. Set a quit date
The final step of your quit plan (if you've decided to use one) could be to set a date to begin your life without cigarettes. Choose a specific date within the next three weeks.
8. Scan your calendar for periods of high stress
See any upcoming events or circumstances that you think might tempt you to start smoking. Will you be going out or spending time with people who smoke? Think of at least three things you can do in each situation to cope with temptation, like avoiding the situation or doing something that is incompatible with smoking.
9. Time to commit
Put it in writing, it is like signing a contract with yourself: "I have committed to stop smoking on (input date here). On that day, I'm starting my tobacco-free life."
Reframe your thoughts!
A part of quitting is changing the way you think. Continually try to reprogram your thoughts in order to look at quitting smoking in a positive light.
Change "I will not" to "I will." For example, if you normally smoke after dinner, you could say: "Right after dinner tonight, I will go for a short walk."
Change "I can't handle this craving" to "I will be so proud of myself when this craving passes!"
Change "I am only at day 4!" to "I am at day 4! More than halfway through the first and most difficult week."
Each day, week and month without cigarettes is worth celebrating. You deserve to reward yourself.
Save the money you would have spent on cigarettes. Use it to treat yourself in big or small ways. Buy a new phone, a new outfit, or go on vacation!
Rewards do not have to involve money or food. Plan to have a long phone conversation with an old friend, allow yourself more time for something you enjoy or plan a celebration with friends!
The best rewards are often long-term. Make a list of why quitting smoking is important to you and read it whenever you're having a tough time. Take a moment to review the steps you've taken towards becoming smoke-free.
The Day Has Arrived! Put Your Game Face On!
On your quit day, you may feel nervous. Whatever you are doing, stop and take a breath. Recognize that you are ready to tackle this!
- Review your quit plan if you've made one.
- Talk about quitting as much as you want--it's a big deal!
- Warn your friends--you may be a little spaced out or cranky.
- Take it easy--give yourself breaks and avoid difficult situations (times when you might be tempted to smoke).
- Understand that you will have cravings and they will pass.
- The more you fight through urges to smoke, the stronger you will become at resisting cravings and the weaker the addiction will become.
- Repeat: "I want this. I can do this. I will do this!"
Remember, this is the first day of an important phase in your life.
"It always seems impossible until it's done."
- Constipation: This may occur in the first few weeks. Eat fibre, drink lots of water and increase your physical activity.
- Coughing: Yes, it is unpleasant to be coughing up mucus. But hey, your lungs are healing and cleaning themselves! 35
- Hunger: Your body will actually be able to absorb more nourishment. Manage hunger by drinking lots of water and eating healthy snacks.
- Trouble sleeping: Your sleep quality should eventually improve and you may actually require fewer hours of sleep!
- Irritability: Take breaks regularly and practice relaxation breathing exercises.
Take a deep breath and remember...
Cravings and withdrawal symptoms will pass. They are only temporary and soon you will feel better than ever! Just keep going!
The Power of Positive Thinking
Quitting is more than just getting through the withdrawal symptoms. As we have already mentioned, quitting also involves changing the way you think. It's about being confident in your choice, seeing yourself as a non-smoker and getting through the tough times.
Stay cool, calm and confident
- Figuring out your personal reasons for quitting can help motivate you to quit. If quitting is important for your health, your family's health or other important things in your life, it can increase your desire to quit.
- Confidence comes from the belief that you will succeed. This confidence comes from understanding what triggers you to smoke and having strategies in place to deal with those situations.
- Every temptation to smoke that you overcome will increase your confidence.
- Confidence and success come from good preparation, a positive attitude and firm commitment.
- Reviewing what you've learned will help you feel good about your decision and reinforce your motivation to follow through.
See yourself as a non-smoker in the following situations:
- having a drink or coffee with friends
- after dinner
- after waking up
If you're having trouble doing this, that's okay. Keep visualizing yourself being successfully smoke-free. The more you practice, the easier it will become and the more likely you will be to remain smoke-free.
"The energy of the mind is the essence of life."
You Quit! Now What?
Living without cigarettes will get easier. Every day without cigarettes is a step towards being smoke-free and is worth celebrating. So, every day for the next month:
- Remember, you are a non-smoker. You do not smoke. Make this your first and last conscious thought of the day. Remind yourself of this every time you see someone with a cigarette.
- Review your reasons for quitting and your strategies for coping with urges. Avoid doing any of the things you strongly associate with smoking.
- Go for short walks. Focus on the pleasure of breathing clean, smoke-free air.
- Be proud of yourself. Continue to think positively about the change you've made. Don't worry if you feel a little down and/or tired for a few days--these are signs of nicotine withdrawal. 36
Remind yourself that:
- you can do this
- it takes a bit of time to heal
- you're getting healthier and stronger every day.
- Be aware that the urge to smoke can remain strong long after nicotine withdrawal symptoms have faded. Be alert to high-risk situations that may tempt you to smoke. 37
- Be aware that stress has been known to cause relapses. Remember, smoking will not solve your problems or relieve stress. In fact, the guilt of relapse may make things even worse!
- Identify the skills you have used in the past to overcome your current challenges.
- Pay attention to what you say to yourself. If it is negative, silently say "STOP," and then replace it with a positive thought.
- Remind yourself that cravings don't last long.
- Avoid the sight and/or smell of cigarettes.
- Never test yourself with one puff or one cigarette.
"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."
Dealing with temptations--in case of an emergency, follow these steps:
The best way to cope with temptations is to avoid them. Stay away from situations, people and things that make you want to smoke as they can weaken your will to stay quit. The key is to learn to recognize potentially tempting situations, and then develop two or three strategies you can use if a situation comes up.
If you find yourself in any situation that may tempt you, leave as soon as you can, preferably before you get a craving.
If you cannot leave the situation, then distract yourself with positive thoughts like future plans (vacations, rewards, etc.), the benefits of quitting or how great you feel being smoke-free. Alternatively, relaxation breathing, walking, exercising and drinking water may also help distract you.
If distractions aren't working, then tell yourself to wait five minutes and then deal with the situation. The craving will normally pass within a few minutes.
Continue to think positively
Review the "Power of Positive Thinking" section for more information.
"Success in life comes to those who simply refuse to give up; individuals with vision so strong that obstacles, failure and loss only act as teachings."
Never Give Up, Even if You Slip!
Okay, so the emergency quit plan didn't work and you slipped. A slip can be when you have a few puffs or even a whole cigarette. It can lead back to regular smoking. Slips don't mean you should give up! A slip is like an alarm. When the alarm rings, you need to know exactly what to do, what to say, where to go and whom to ask for help. You don't want to lose control of a situation. Plan ahead in the same way as you would for a fire drill. By planning ahead, you could save your quit attempt.
Change the situation
- Stop smoking immediately.
- Leave the room or situation.
- If you bought cigarettes, throw them out.
Talk positively to yourself
- Remind yourself of how far you've come, not just how far you have to go.
- Encourage yourself not to give up.
- Do something that makes it impossible to smoke (like taking a shower).
- Find something else to focus on other than cigarettes or the craving--focus on gardening, work, the news, etc.
- Do not criticize yourself.
- Make your mouth and throat feel different--chew gum, drink water or brush your teeth.
- Be physically active--go for a brisk walk outside. Fresh air clears your head.
- If you're having a major craving, sit down and do relaxation breathing until the feeling has passed or go for a brisk walk.
Ask for help
- Talk to someone to distract or encourage you. Call the pan-Canadian toll-free quitline number at 1-866-366-3667 or your quit buddy.
If you slip, try to figure out why it happened and make plans to avoid it in the future. Take note of what you have learned and what you have to do to prevent it from happening again in the future.
Money, Money, Money!
We have talked a lot about what you will deal with while quitting and how to cope with challenges. Now, let's talk about an important benefit from quitting smoking! Money! That's right, if you continue to stay smoke-free, you will save lots and lots of money!
Just think: a pack-a-day smoker can spend more than $3,285 a year on cigarettes! If you continue to stay smoke-free for five years and put that money aside, you will save $16,425. This does not include increases in price due to inflation or taxes. Now, imagine you stay smoke-free until you decide to retire (roughly 40 years). That's at least $131,400! You can do amazing things with that much money like plan a trip around the world, buy a cottage, or a luxury car!
You could enjoy your hard earned money now! What would you spend the extra money on?
- A weekly dinner out?
- A nice trip once a year?
- A new outfit once a month?
- A new car?
- A down payment on a house or condo?
What? Weight Gain?!
What can you do to prevent weight gain?
You'll be less likely to gain weight if you stick to low-calorie snacks and increase your physical activity. Quitting can also:
- make you feel better
- give you more energy
- help you breathe more easily
- make it easier to exercise and to lead an active lifestyle
Regular physical activity and healthy eating habits can help increase your metabolism, which in turn, will burn more calories... so get moving!
Multiplying your health benefits!
- go for a walk
- dance around the house
- drink ice water
- snack on veggies
- practice yoga
- clean your place
- go for a swim
- do sit-ups or push-ups
- play your favourite sport
You will be glad you quit smoking
- You will feel much more in control of your decisions, actions and health.
- Your overall health will improve and you will have more energy.
- You will not have to worry about the health risks of tobacco use.
- You will look and feel younger. Smoking causes premature aging and wrinkling of the skin. , 42 43
You will join the majority of Canadians who are living smoke-free.
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