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Prepare for Your Quit Date

By Staff | June 8, 2021 | Mayo Clinic Health Information Library

Most people smoke their first cigarettes on a whim. But few people smoke their last cigarettes in this same spur-of-the-moment fashion. Quitting works best when you're prepared.

With that in mind, be sure to complete these simple tasks before your quit date. It will help you be ready to tackle the larger task of quitting smoking for good.

Brace yourself for challenging times

Quitting smoking isn't easy. But it's easier if you're ready for the challenge. Prepare with these strategies:

  • Know your triggers. Many smokers light up every time they do a certain activity or go to a certain place. Possible triggers include driving, feeling stressed, and drinking coffee or alcohol. Every time you smoke, log the time, how strong the craving was, your mood and what you were doing at the time. This will give you a better understanding of what triggers you to smoke.
  • Decide how you'll deal with your triggers. Can you avoid certain situations and places in which you might be tempted to smoke? Can you alter your routine to eliminate everyday triggers? Finally, what will you do with your new free time? Think about a new hobby or activity to keep busy.
  • Plan nonsmoking outings now. Schedule meetings at places where you can't smoke with people who don't smoke, especially for the first few days after your quit date. Make a date at your local smoke-free museum, library or theater. Or mark your calendar for a bike ride or walk with a friend.
  • Visualize success. Act with self-confidence that you can make changes one day at a time — or perhaps, more realistically, one urge at a time.

Talk about your plans

Don't keep your goal of quitting smoking a secret. Letting others know about your plan makes it more likely that you'll stick to it. Here's how to communicate effectively:

  • Talk to your family members and friends. Let loved ones know the exact date you'll be quitting and what they can do to help. If your friends or family members smoke, ask them not to smoke around you or — better yet — to quit with you.
  • Talk to your doctor. Ask your doctor about medications to help you quit smoking and if he or she can recommend a support group in your area. Combining strategies may be more effective than just using one method to quit.

Buy your supplies

There's no reason to wait until your quit date to buy the things you'll need to succeed. Be prepared with these supplies:

  • Stock up on things to occupy your mouth. Many smokers miss the feeling of having something in their mouths. Try sugar-free gum or hard candy, carrot or celery sticks, toothpicks, or sunflower seeds. Also get a water bottle and keep it filled. Having water and healthy snacks on hand can help curb the craving to smoke.
  • Find something to occupy your hands. Make a trip to the craft store or greenhouse so that you can keep your hands busy with knitting or gardening. Get a stress ball to squeeze. Or just keep a paper clip or marble in your pocket so that you'll have something to put in your hand besides a cigarette.
  • Pick up nicotine replacement products and other stop-smoking medications. Some products require a prescription, so this may require a call or a trip to your doctor. In addition, some medications need to be started a week or two before your quit date.

Clean house

Before your quit date, eliminate the things that remind you of smoking. Try these ideas:

  • Scrap your smokes. Remove all cigarettes — and ashtrays and matches and lighters — from your house, car and workplace.
  • Clear the air. Your sense of smell will improve shortly after you quit. And the reward will be that much sweeter if you've already washed your clothes and cleaned your house and car. You might even want to buy some fresh flowers or scented candles in preparation of your sweet-smelling success.
  • Clean your teeth. Have your dentist clean your teeth to get rid of smoking stains. Then, resolve to make your "pearly whites" live up to their name.

It may take a few days to accomplish everything on this to-do list. But, with every preparation task you complete, you'll be one step closer to your new smoke-free life.

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