This post is for those who are toying with the idea of quitting tobacco or who have decided they want quit tobacco during the new year. Whether you want to quit cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless tobacco – or any combination of these – this is for you. This post will provide general tips for your quit journey.
Preparing to Quit1
- Know why you’re quitting. Is it to be healthier? Save money? Keep your family safe? Some questions if you aren’t sure:
- What don’t I like about smoking/vaping/chewing?
- What do I miss out on when I smoke/vape?
- How is smoking/vaping/chewing affecting my health?
- What will happen to me and my family if I keep smoking/vaping/chewing?
- How will my life get better when I quit?
- Make a plan. Set a quit date. Identify what makes you use tobacco and think of ways to manage those triggers.
- Identify ways to handle nicotine withdrawal. Common symptoms are listed below.
- Tell someone you trust your plans to quit. They can be better prepared to support you during your journey.
- Go through a Practice Quit or Daily Challenges to get a feel for what quitting for good can feel like for you. Revisit any plans you have and make any necessary changes to them.
Common Withdrawal Symptoms2
Trying to quit tobacco can feel different for each person. However, almost everyone will have some symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. The withdrawal stems from your body and brain needing to get used to not having nicotine when you stop.
While nicotine withdrawal can be uncomfortable, it cannot hurt you. Symptoms will fade over time if you stay smokefree. Below are some common symptoms:
- Having urges or cravings to smoke, vape, or chew
- Feeling irritated, grouchy, or upset
- Feeling jumpy or restless
- Having a hard time concentrating
- Having trouble sleeping
- Feeling hungrier or gaining weight
- Feeling anxious, sad, or depressed
Tips for Quitting
- If this isn’t your first time, that’s okay and normal! You probably had to learn to use tobacco when you started. It’s the same when quitting. You may need to learn to be a non-tobacco user. Try to avoid what made you pick up tobacco again during your practice run(s).
- Make a plan. Set a quit date. Identify what makes you use tobacco and think of ways to manage those triggers. Ideas: toss any tobacco related products (cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays, etc.), take a walk, color, drink water, or spend time with someone who is smokefree.
- Get Support. Whether it’s a friend, your doctor, or the State Quitline, support can help you when needed. Medication is available to help with withdrawal symptoms.
- Cut yourself some slack. Quitting probably won’t happen overnight. You may slip up. If that happens, identify what lead to it and think of ways to avoid that thing if you can.
- Get some tips from someone who successfully quit tobacco. Something that helped them may work for you.
- Quit at your pace. This is your journey, not anyone else’s. You may take longer to quit than someone else and that’s okay. You may be the fast quitter. If you are, let other’s go their pace. They may be dealing with something you didn’t during your journey.
Ideas for Managing Smoking Triggers and Managing Withdrawal Symptoms
- Medication. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is available to help with physical symptoms of withdrawal. Adults 18 and older can utilize NRT. Pregnant women may do so as well if their healthcare provider approves of it.
- Exercise. This doesn’t mean summiting Denali or running a marathon. Though you can if that’s what you want. Yoga or an easy walk can help relieve negative feelings and provide a distraction from tobacco. Exercise can also help you manage your weight if you’re concerned about weight gain.
- Eat healthy. Healthy foods help with weight management and can boost your mood. Cooking can be a way to distract yourself from cravings for tobacco. If cooking isn’t your thing: choose the healthiest option available at the restaurant or premade isle of the grocery store.
- Find activities that you enjoy. Puzzles? Coloring? Reading? Yardwork? All are ways to keep you feeling good while providing a distraction from cravings you feel.
- Take slow, deep breaths. Inhale through your nose for 5 seconds and out your mouth for 5 seconds. Repeat until your feeling more relaxed.
- Take a warm bath or get a massage. Use the money you’re saving to splurge on a massage or bath salts. These can help if you’re carrying tension from stress. Stretching is another way to help with tension.
- Volunteer or Help a Friend. Even shorts bursts of helping someone else can benefit your health, like reducing stress.
- Go to a smokefree place or hang out with a smokefree friend. Most public places don’t allow smoking. Being around others who don’t smoke may help you in your journey. If you already regularly go to smokefree places, what helps you be smokefree while you’re there? Engage in whatever helps you in these spaces whenever your next craving comes along.
- Quit with somebody or get help from someone who successfully quit. They can share ideas on what has or is helping them quit or stay quit. Those ideas may work for you.
- Remember why you’re quitting. When it gets tough, go back to why you’re quitting and try to focus on the good from quitting.
Need Help Quitting?
- Call the Alaska State Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW. You can also text READY to 200-400.
- Teens can visit Live Vape Free or Not For Me. Prefer texting? Text VAPEFREE to 873373.
- Veterans can call the VA’s Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-VET
- American Lung Association: resources for quitting smoking for adults and teens. Also provides information for those who want to support someone in their quit journey.
- For more information and tips, check out gov.
Experiencing an Mental Health Crisis or Having Thoughts of Suicide?
- Call or text 988.
- You can also chat online at Lifeline (988lifeline.org).
Saved by the Scan
- Smoking increases the risk of lung cancer. If you smoke or quit, you may be eligible for screening. Check out SavedByTheScan.Org. for more information.
- Lung cancer screening is recommended if you are:
- Between the ages of 50-80
- Have a 20 pack-year smoking history (i.e. 0.5 pack/day for 40 years, 1 pack/day for 20 years, 2 packs/day for 10 years, etc.)
- Quit smoking within the last 15 years