Everglades AHEC - Tobacco Department
5725 Corporate Way, Suite 102
West Palm Beach, FL 33407

Phone 561.688.9591
Toll Free 1.877.819.2357
Fax 561.688.9592
Email info@eahec.org





Just how and why do people stop smoking? Ahh, that is the ultimate question. Researchers have been looking into it for years. One theory that has been used is the "Stages of Change Model." The model is based on research that shows that behavior changes related to smoking occur over a continuum. In other words, not all people are at the same point in the "getting ready to quit" scenario.

Here's an overview of the stages:

  • Pre-contemplator
    This is the smoker who is not even thinking about quitting right now.

  • Contemplator
    This is the smoker who 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 of finals is too much, or I don't want to gain weight, or I'm not sure if I can do it."

  • Preparation
    Smokers 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 developed a plan to quit.

  • Action
    In this stage, the smoker has taken action to quit and is in the first 6 months of being smoke-free.

  • Maintenance
    This is the period of 6 months to five years after quitting when the new non-smoker is actively engaged in taking steps to avoid smoking again. This usually includes incorporating other healthy behaviors into one’s life.

Setting a Quit Date and Making a Quit Plan

Once a person has decided to quit, it's time to pick the all-important Quit Date. Make sure it's pretty soon - like maybe in the next month. Choosing one too far in the future will make it easier to rationalize a way out of it. But there also needs to be enough time to get prepared. Then it's time to come up with a solid plan. Here are some steps to help smokers get prepared.

  • Pick the date and mark it on a calendar (in plain sight!)
  • Tell friends and family about the quit date and ask for their support.
  • Stock up on sugarless gum, cinnamon sticks, carrot sticks and hard can

Decide on a plan. What options does the health center offer for cessation? Are there community resources or on-line support services that best match your personal needs? You can call the toll-free national QuitLine at 1-800-QUIT-NOW to receive telephone support and advice to prepare to quit and throughout the quit process.

Is nicotine replacement therapy (i.e., the patch or gum) or other medications the way to go? Medications have been proven to increase the success of quitting. Investigate your options and decide what will work best for you. If you decide on medication, you may need to start using it before your quit date.

Attending a smoking cessation class or calling a quit line also can help you to stay smoke-free.

Practice saying, "No, thank you. I don't smoke."

Set up a support system. Tell others of your plan and ask for their support. Ask a friend to quit with you. You can also join Nicotine Anonymous or talk with a friend who has successfully quit and is willing to help.

Get rid of all cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays, etc.

Identify your triggers, the things that tempt you to smoke. Think about the times or rituals during the day when you normally smoke, such as with a cup of coffee in the morning, between classes, while studying or at the bar. Figure out what you will do instead of smoking, such as skipping the coffee, going for a walk, chomping on carrot sticks or lollipops and even avoiding the bar. These temptations will become less and less strong the longer you are smoke-free.

If weight gain is a concern, know that exercise can decrease your chances of gaining weight while you quit and can make quitting easier.

What To Do When the Quit Day Comes

Do not smoke. Stop smoking the night before and when you wake up the next morning, you will have an 8-hour head start to being smoke-free!

Keep active - try walking, exercising or doing other activities or hobbies.

Drink lots of water and juices.

Start nicotine replacement therapy (if chosen).

Continue attending a smoking cessation class, following a self-help plan and using computer resources. Call your support system or the quitline when you're tempted.

Avoid high-risk situations where the urge to smoke is strong. Sit in non-smoking sections when you go out to eat or frequent smoke-free establishments.

Think HALT – Don’t get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.

Reduce or avoid alcohol and caffeine. Why? Alcohol clouds judgment and can make it easier to slip and smoke. Plus, alcohol may be linked to smoking for some people and it's important to break this connection.

Use the four "A's"

  • Avoid: Certain people and places can tempt you to smoke. Stay away for now. Later on, you'll be able to cope.
  • Alter: Switch to soft drinks or water instead of coffee or alcohol. Take a different route to school or work. Take a walk when you used to take a smoke break!
  • Alternatives: Use oral substitutions like sugarless gum, hard candy or sunflower seeds.
  • Activities: Exercise or hobbies that keep your hands busy (video games, needlework, woodworking, etc.) can help distract the urge to smoke.


You Can Quit Smoking! Next: Dealing With Withdrawal


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