Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Choose a Plan or Create Your Own to Quit Smoking

        Health | Smoking Cessation

Choose a Plan or Create Your Own to Quit Smoking (<i>cont'd</i>)

"Here are the steps I took to quit forever."

  1. Plan ahead and pick a date in the near future for quiting. No more than a month ahead.
  2. Every day leading up to that date, make a conscious effort to use negative 'self-talk' about how nasty the ashtrays look, how your lungs look, the yellow on your fingers, bad breath, etc. Don't try to cut back yet.
  3. Every day, recommit to quitting on that date, put it in your planner and on your calendar.
  4. Two weeks or so before quitting, start buying your cigarettes by the pack rather than having a carton available.
  5. One week before the special day, change to a brand of cigarettes completely different from your brand. I smoked a menthol light and switched to Carlton's regular.
  6. On D-day, throw away every cigarette in your possession. Clean up all ashtrays and store away. Take the ashtray out of your car. Remove extra matches, give away or throw away lighters and any other smoking accessories.
  7. Eat plenty of broccoli and cauliflower. Supposedly, it helps remove the nicotine from your system faster. Can't guarantee that this works, but it's healthy for you and can't hurt.
  8. Do not sit or stand around with friends in the smoking area. Eventually, smoke will begin to strongly offend your senses and when that happens, you've broken the addiction to smoking.
  9. Do not, under any circumstances, pick up a cigarette to see if it still tastes the same or any other excuse!! I guarantee, you will fail again if you weaken.

— H.

"I knew I couldn't give up smoking forever. So I gave up cigarettes for a decade."

"I had a pack-and-a-half-a-day habit. I knew I couldn't give up smoking forever. So I gave cigarettes up for a decade. What worked for me was a little promise to myself, in the form of a simple contract. At age 19, I realized that my 20's would shape my future. I didn't want smoking to slow me down. I wrote up a contract to stop smoking on a small piece of scrap paper. I was at the airport at the time. I met a girl there selling flowers and I asked her to "witness" it. It went into effect on December 31st, 1979. I kept that promise for ten years.

Then, on New Year's Eve 1989, exactly 10 years later, I was with a friend who knew about my contract. We talked about it and as I pondered the future, I figured my 30's would represent an important turning point in my family life and career. I didn't need a return to cigarettes getting in the way. She persuaded me to renew my contract for another decade. We wrote it up on a napkin and both signed it. I kept that promise for another ten years.

Now, I'm 41 and happily in my third smoke-free decade. As I look back, I liked the idea of a contract with myself for only ten years at a time because whenever I had the urge to smoke I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel. I could wait until my contract was up. Today I am without a contract— cigarettes. I also have a wonderful family and a rewarding career. And for the first time in 20 years, I have the option to return to smoking. But now I've been separated from the habit for half my life. I finally have the free will to choose not to smoke. It might sound crazy but hey, it worked for me! — Jeff D.


More to Explore