Why not make this the year you truly make an effort to cut out the dreaded weed - paving the way for a healthier new 'you'...
Before you stop...
- Don't be afraid to ask for help.
- Ask family and friends not to smoke around you.
- Wash your clothes to get rid of the smell of smoke.
- Decide you'll only smoke during odd or even hours of the day.
- Write down the reasons you want to become a non-smoker.
- Each day, postpone the lighting of your first cigarette by one hour.
- Ask your partner or friend to stop with you - make a contract with each other.
- Keep busy on the day you plan to stop. Go to the cinema, take some exercise, tie up some loose ends in your life!
- Make a date and stick to it. Write up a plan of action and consider methods available to you.
- Smoke only under circumstances that aren't especially pleasurable for you. If you like to smoke with others, smoke alone.
- Change to a brand that is low in tar and nicotine a couple of weeks before your target date.
- Decide how many cigarettes you'll smoke during the day. For each additional cigarette, give a pound to your favourite charity.
- Smoke only those cigarettes you 'really want'. Catch yourself before you light up a cigarette out of pure habit.
- Don't empty your ashtrays. This will remind you of how many you DO smoke - the sight and smell of stale cigarettes butts will be very unpleasant.
- Don't think of never smoking again. Think of 'stopping' in terms of one day at a time.
- Get more active: Walk instead of driving or taking the bus. Use the stairs instead of the lift. Exercise helps you relax and boosts morale.
- Change your routine and try to avoid danger areas - it's tough, but pubs and alcohol are real triggers.
- Find activities that make smoking difficult (gardening, exercise, washing the car, taking a shower).
- Spend as much free time as possible in places where smoking isn't allowed (libraries, museums, theatres, department stores, and churches!)
- Change your surroundings when an urge hits; get up and move about, or do something else.
- Avoid places where smoking is permitted.
- Put something other than a cigarette into your mouth. Keep 'mouth candy' handy - try carrots, apples, celery, raisins, or sugarless gum.
- Tell all your friends and family that you've already quit - you'll be embarrassed if they catch you smoking.
- Stop carrying cigarettes with you at home, in your bag or at work. Don't 'borrow' any, and make them difficult to get to.
- Throw away all your cigarettes and matches. Hide (or trash!) your lighters and ashtrays.
- Visit the dentist and have your teeth cleaned to get rid of tobacco stains. Use a teeth-whitening toothpaste and mouthwash - resolve to keep them that way.
- Enjoy having a clean mouth taste and maintain it by brushing your teeth frequently and using a mouthwash.
- Avoid heavy drinking of alcohol, caffeine, or other stimulants or mood-altering substances.
- Pay a family member or friend (if they catch you smoking) £5 to be a deterrent - but not too large as to be ridiculous.
- If your partner smokes, try and encourage him or her to quit or at the very least not to smoke around you.
- Think positively - withdrawal can be unpleasant, but it's a sign your body is recovering from the effects of tobacco.
In times of temptation...
- Ease the withdrawal symptoms with nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).
- Keep busy - go to a film, take some exercise or start a new project.
- Change your routine - avoid the shops where you usually buy cigarettes.
- End meals or snacks with something that won't lead to a cigarette.
- Avoid people who smoke - spend more time with non-smoking friends.
- Keep your hands busy - doodle, knit, type an email to someone you've lost touch with, even do the crossword!
- Drink plenty of fluids. Keep a glass of water or pure fruit juice by you and sip it steadily.
- When your desire for a cigarette is intense, wash your hands - or the dishes - or try new recipes.
- If you miss having something in your mouth, try toothpicks, or carrot or celery sticks.
- If you always smoke while driving, sing along to your favourite music instead, or use public transport.
- Never allow yourself to think that 'one won't hurt' - it will. It's a slippery slope.
- Be careful what you eat - try not to snack on fatty or salty foods.
- Assist the body in getting rid of nicotine. Drink plenty of water; eat fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fibre-rich foods.
- Change your eating habits to help you cut down - for example, drink milk, which many people consider incompatible with smoking.
- Change the daily schedule. Eat at different times or eat many small meals instead of three large ones; sit in a different chair; rearrange the furniture.
- Find other ways to close a meal. Play a tape or CD; eat a piece of fruit; get up and make a phone call.
- Instead of smoking after meals, get up from the table and brush your teeth.
- Try to avoid alcohol, coffee, and other beverages that you associate with cigarette smoking.
It's a mind game...
- Light incense or candles instead of a cigarette.
- Strike up conversation instead of a match for a cigarette.
- Cut a drinking straw into cigarette-sized pieces. Inhale air.
- Collect all your cigarette butts in a large glass container - you'll clearly see just how much you DO smoke.
- Take 10 deep breaths and hold the last one while lighting a match. Exhale slowly and blow out the match.
- Pretend it's a cigarette and crush it out in an ashtray. Repeat.
- Decide positively that you want to stop. Try to avoid negative thoughts about how difficult it might be.
- When cravings become overwhelming: take naps, warm baths or showers, or meditate.
- If you miss the sensation of having a cigarette in your hand, play with something else (!) - a pencil, a paper clip, whatever.
- Identify the trigger: Exactly what was it that prompted you to smoke? Be aware of the trigger and decide now how you'll cope with it when it comes up again.
- Understand that withdrawal symptoms are temporary - they're healthy signs that the body is repairing itself from its long exposure to nicotine.
- When cravings occur, hold your breath as long as possible or take a few deep rhythmic breaths.
Think of the savings - and the treats!
- Make up a calendar for the first 90 days. Cross off each day and indicate the money you saved by not smoking.
- Take one day at a time - each day without a cigarette is good news for your health, family and your purse.
- Make a list of things you'd like to buy for yourself or someone else. Estimate the money saved from packs of cigarettes - and get the pressies!
- Each month, on the anniversary of your stopping date, plan a special celebration.
- Buy yourself flowers to celebrate totally smoke-free days; you may be surprised how much you can enjoy their scent now.
Helping someone who's trying to quit
- Before they stop, ask what they would like you to do to help. Some smokers like attention, while others like to get on with it in peace. Keep checking out their preferences.
- Do a deal to kick a habit of your own at the same time. Although nothing is quite the same as giving up smoking, it could really help you to understand what your friend is going through if you also give up something you depend on.
- Don't forget they're stopping and lose interest in them. Send a good luck card, and little 'well done' messages in the early weeks. The novelty wears off quickly, so it'll help if you can keep up morale.
- Spend time with them in smoke-free places - the cinema, no-smoking cafes and bars, museums, sports centres. The more often they can socialise without smoking, the easier it will be to break habits.
- Let them sound off! Nicotine withdrawal sometimes makes people irritable, so indulge the occasional bad mood.
- Celebrate some firsts - the first smoke-free week or month, the first time they manage a party without smoking. Ask what the smoker will see as a challenge, and celebrate all the successes.
- If you smoke yourself, be considerate! Keep your cigarettes tidied away, and don't leave full ashtrays around. Try to smoke somewhere else, so that the smell won't make things harder.
- Don't look at someone else's decision to stop as being a criticism of you. They're doing it because it's right for them - you're still free to do what you like.