Quitting smoking usually doesn’t happen overnight—it takes time. And it takes planning. When you create a quitting plan, you can go step-by-step to reach your goals to quit smoking and quit tobacco. Use the four steps below as a framework to create your quit plan.
Step One: Decide Why You Will Quit
The first step of your plan should be based on choosing your reasons for quitting. These reasons will become the inspiring centerpiece of your quit plan. Think about the benefits that you will get once you quit and write them down in a notebook or on a sign on the wall that you’ll see every day.
Your reasons to quit might include:
Step Two: Choose a Quit Date
Once you know why you want to quit, you can schedule a date to make it happen. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) suggests that your date be within the next 14 days to have sufficient preparation time.
Don’t rely on your memory with this date—write it down on your calendar, and post a copy of the calendar somewhere you will see it regularly.
You might circle the date in red pen so that you’ll notice it every time you walk by the calendar. It’s also a good idea to tell other people—like friends and family—about the date that you plan to quit smoking, vaping, or using other tobacco products. That way they can support you.
Step Three: Avoid Triggers
Your quit plan should also include steps to follow after you’ve quit smoking. One of the most important ways to “stay quit” is to avoid doing things that “trigger” your desire to smoke. As you create your quit plan, list in advance what types of triggers you should avoid. Your list might include:
Step Four: Combat Cravings
Another step to prepare for once your quit date has passed is to know how you’ll handle cigarette or tobacco cravings. Identify the common times when you experience cravings, such as:
Then for each type of craving, think of a strategy in advance that you can use when you are having a craving. For example, you might write out a list of other activities you can do when you feel bored and do those things when you want to stay busy to help avoid cravings.
Now You Know How to Create Your Quit Plan
There’s nothing more important that a smoker can do to improve health and quality of life than quitting smoking. Create a quit plan and work the steps one at a time to help you stick with it. You’ve got this—make it happen!