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The Decision to Quit
Others may want you to quit smoking, but the real commitment must come from you

The Stages of Change Model identifies the stages that a person goes through when making a change in his or her behavior. Here are the stages as they apply to quitting tobacco use:

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• Pre-contemplation: At this stage, the tobacco user is not thinking seriously about quitting right now.

• Contemplation: The tobacco user is actively thinking about quitting but is not quite ready to make a serious attempt yet. This person may say, "Yes, I'm ready to quit, but the stress at work is too much, or I don't want to gain weight, or I'm not sure if I can do it."

• Preparation: Tobacco users in the preparation stage seriously intend to quit in the next month and often have tried to quit in the past 12 months. They usually have a plan.

• Action: The first 6 months when the user is actively quitting.

• Maintenance: The period of 6 months to 5 years after quitting when the ex-user is aware of the danger of relapse and take steps to avoid it.

Setting a Quit Date

Once you've decided to quit, you're ready to pick a quit date. This is a very important step. Pick a specific day within the next month as your "Quit Day." Picking a date too far in the future allows you time to rationalize and change your mind. But give yourself enough time to prepare and come up with a plan. You might choose a date that has a special meaning like a birthday or anniversary, or the date of the Great American Smokeout (the third Thursday in November each year). Or you may simply pick a random date. Circle the date on your calendar. Make a strong, personal commitment to quit on that day.

Choosing a Quit Plan

There is no one right way to quit. Most tobacco users will try to quit "cold turkey"— that is, abruptly and totally.  They use tobacco until their Quit Day, and then stop all at once, or they may cut down on tobacco for a week or two before their Quit Day. Another way involves cutting down on the number of times tobacco is used each day. With this method, you gradually reduce the amount of nicotine in your body.

While it sounds logical to cut down in order to quit gradually, in practice this method is difficult. Quitting tobacco takes a strong commitment over a long period of time. Users may wish there was a magic bullet — a pill or method that would make quitting painless and easy. But that is not the case. Nicotine substitutes can help reduce withdrawal symptoms, but are most effective when used as part of a plan that addresses both the physical and psychological components of quitting.


Here are some steps to help you prepare for your Quit Day:

• Tell friends and family about your Quit Day.

• Pick the date and mark it on your calendar.

• Practice saying, “No, thank you, I don’t smoke.”

• Get rid of all cigarettes & ashtrays in your home, car, & work.

• Stock up on oral substitutes—sugarless gum, carrot sticks, and/or hard candy.

• Will you use nicotine replacement therapy or other medicines? Will you attend a class? If so, sign up now.

• Set up a support system: A group class, Nicotine Anonymous, or a friend or family member who has successfully quit and is willing to help you. Ask them not to smoke around you or leave cigarettes out where you can see them.

• Think back to your past attempts to quit. Try to analyze what worked and what did not work for you.


For a guide to help you quit smoking visit the American Cancer Society's Guide to Quitting Smoking.

 
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