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It is final. I am quitting smoking!
This brochure is designed for those who are
Print this brochure, rather than read it on the screen
So, you have decided to try stop smoking? Congratulations on an excellent decision! This brochure contains advice based on the experience of hundreds of ex-smokers who have participated in our surveys. In reading, consider how they have come to free themselves from cigarettes and how you can follow their example.
Reasons to quit smoking
To successfully quit smoking, you must be well-convinced of the validity of the decision. Start by making a list of the reasons why you want to quit smoking. You can then put this list in a visible spot.
The reasons why I want to quit smoking
Here is what some ex-smokers told us about their experience of quitting. Imagine the day when you can express the same point of view!
The advantages of quitting smoking for your health:
A few strategies to prepare yourself to quit smoking
We know it is not easy to quit smoking. But we also know that you are capable of quitting smoking, just like thousands of other ex-smokers. Most ex-smokers were not successful at stopping the first time, but needed an average of 4 attempts. Try again and again, and you will finally succeed. Just like in all other domains, practice makes perfect. To succeed, you will need to properly prepare your attempt to quit. Here are the techniques that ex-smokers have used during this step of preparation.
Many ex-smokers have said that the help of those around them was an essential element of their success. Look around for people you can trust and talk with them about your intention to stop smoking. Watch out for certain smokers, though, as they can be jealous of you. Mostly try to get support from non-smokers. If your spouse smokes, encourage him or her to stop smoking. If your spouse stops smoking, this will decrease your risk of relapsing.
Ask for professional help
The help of a professional significantly improves your chances of success. Some possibilities are:
Try it out
To learn how to deal with nicotine wihdrawal and cravings, you can stop smoking for a few hours, then for a half-day, then for a whole day. These brief periods without cigarettes can prepare you to definitively stop smoking and increase your confidence in your capacity to resist cigarettes. To avoid cravings and other withdrawal symptoms during these brief periods without cigarettes, you can use a nicotine replacement product (patch, chewing gum, nasal spray, etc.).
Use favorable occasions
Many events can prompt you to think about your smoking habit: colds, bronchitis, pregnancy, the birth of a child, the illness of a smoker around you, etc. You can use these occasions to stop smoking, but do not wait too long: the "magic moment" when quitting is easy does not exist.
Abstain absolutely from picking up a cigarette after having stopped smoking
Very often, taking one cigarette leads to a relapse. After quitting, it is VERY IMPORTANTto avoid taking even just one drag of a cigarette.
Evaluate your addiction level
then we strongly recommend that you use a nicotine substitution product (patch, chewing gum, nasal spray, etc), beginning the first day without cigarettes. These products attenuate or even eliminate withdrawal symptoms. They multiply your chances of success by 2 to 3.
If you used nicotine replacement therapy during your previous quit attempt but failed to quit on this occasion, then you can use the new drug bupropion, which may help you quit smoking the next time.
Keep a smoker's journal
Many ex-smokers have found that keeping a journal has helped them to better control their smoking and to break their habits. They have said that this opened their eyes about a habit that they thought they understood. Why not do the following experiment for a few days? Keep a photocopy of the journal (see last page) in your packet of cigarettes and fill it out before you light each cigarette. Each night, re-read your journal and think about it.
Quitting all at once or little by little?
You can stop smoking "cold turquey" or reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke each day . Most ex-smokers stopped all at once. We recommend this method. However, in order to be effective, this method requires adequate preparation, as described in this brochure. If you prefer the progressive method, here is how you do it.
The progressive method
The progressive method is mostly recommended for people who smoke more than 20 cigarettes per day. After cutting back their consumption to 15 to 20 cigarettes a day, these people should stop smoking right away, in a single step, because it is an illusion to think that they will be able to go for long before just building up their consumption again.
Cut back on the cigarettes that are easiest to skip
The Smoker's Journal helps you cut back on cigarettes you light automatically, without thinking. Do only smoke the cigarettes that seem really necessary to you.
Space out the time between cigarettes
Gradually increase the time between each cigarette, up to the point where you are capable of remaining without smoking for several hours or for an entire evening.
Abstain from smoking from time to time
Buy only one pack at a time
Avoid keeping reserves and buying cartons of cigarettes.
Change your habits
Limit the places and the occasions where you smoke
Designate some places where you are allowed to smoke and avoid smoking anywhere else (e.g., in your car, in your apartment, in the presence of children, in the presence of non-smokers).
Luck favors the prepared!
You will increase your chances of success if you prepare yourself to overcome the difficulties that you can run into after you stop smoking. Think in advance about ways to deal with these:
1) High risk situations
Certain situations are particularly conducive to smoking. It is useful to recognize these situations and to prepare a strategy to resist the urge to smoke in each before you get there. For this, start by filling out the questionnaire that follows. You can also read our advice on management of risk situations in our brochure entitled "I just quit smoking."
2) If by accident, you pick up some cigarettes again,
Right away, prepare an emergency plan in case you pick up some cigarettes again, because if you do not respond immediately, you strongly risk starting smoking again.
3) Withdrawal symptoms
In the course of quitting, many smokers feel symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms diminish after a few days, then disappear. Products that contain nicotine (patch, chewing gum, nasal spray) and the drug bupropion strongly reduce these symptoms, or even eliminate them altogether. The table below details the symptoms and suggests ways to deal with them.
Use products that contain nicotine
Nicotine is a drug that causes a physical dependence and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you stop absorbing it. Nine out of ten daily smokers are dependent on nicotine and will feel these symptoms when they quit smoking.
By reducing withdrawal symptoms, or even by eliminating them altogether, nicotine-containing products increase your chances of successfully quitting by 2 to 3 times. Many scientific studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of these products. We strongly recommend that you use them. They will render your attempt to quit much more comfortable.
These products exist in 5 different forms. Depending on the country where you live, all forms are not available and some forms are available only with a prescription from a doctor.
Here are the reasons given by participants of our survey as to why they prefer not to use these products, as well as responses that we gave to them:
"I do not like the idea of using a medication to help me quit smoking."
"These products do not work."
"I can stop smoking just fine without these products. Willpower is enough."
"These products cost too much."
"I'm afraid of the side effects of these products."
"I'm not dependent on the nicotine."
"My problem is not the physical dependence, but getting rid of an old habit."
Alternative products and methods
With the exception of some antidepressants (bupropion), the effectiveness of pharmaceutical products other than the ones that contain nicotine is not scientifically established. In particular, neither homeopathic products nor products which change the taste of tobacco (e.g., silver acetate products) are effective. The same is true for herb-based products. The "gadgets" that you find at pharmacy counters (e.g., cigarette holders, etc.) are also ineffective.
Just do it!
After you have prepared, it is time to do it! Start by making a firm decision to stop smoking Many ex-smokers have confirmed that this firm self-commitment made the difference between successful and unsuccessful attempts to stop smoking.
Set a quit date
It is very import to set a date to stop smoking - and to stick with it. Many smokers wait for the "ideal time." They tell themselves "I will stop on my next vacation, when I have found a job, after my exams, " or "I have too much to worry about right now." The ideal moment will never come. Since you have already decided to quit smoking, what are you waiting for? Would you prefer to wait until you have contracted a fatal smoking-related disease? Take the initiative and fix a date to stop in the next 30 days.
Prepare yourself for your quit day
When the day comes that you fixed to stop smoking, throw away all your cigarettes, and do not save any. Hide all of your matches, lighters and ashtrays. Talk about your attempt to quit with people you trust. Ask your family, your friends and your colleagues to support you and to be understanding if you are in a bad mood. Ask smokers to respect your decision.
Make a contract with yourself
Why not sign a contact with yourself like the one below? This can help you stick with your decision.
For people who have already tried unsuccessfully to stop smoking
Relapsing is a normal phenomenon, a part of the process of stopping. On average, ex-smokers have made 4 serious attempts to quit before finally quitting for good. Keep trying again and again. Just like everything else, it takes practice to get to where you want to go. Remind yourself that your attempt to quit has given you the experience necessary to increase you chances of really quitting the next time around. Having relapsed does not signify that you are incapable of quitting. It only means that you did not react well in a nunfavorable situation. You have been capable of going for several days or months without cigarettes. This proves that you are fully capable of living without smoking. Tell yourself that your next attempt to quit will be different from the previous one, as you will this time be better prepared with the advice and information found in this series of brochures!
Think about the circumstances of your relapse and of how to better resist cigarettes under similar circumstances.This will help to have more success the next time. For this, fill out the following questionnaire:
1- Under what circumstances did you start to smoke again? (date, hour, place, with whom, what activity, what was your mood?).
2- What triggered your urge to smoke?
3- The next time, how will you resist the urge to smoke under similar circumstances?
Ensure that you have properly prepared your attempt to quit smoking by filling out the following check-list:
We can help you
We can give you individualized advice to help you stop smoking. For this, you should respond to our questionnaire and return it to us. In return, you will receive a personal evaluation report, based on your answers to the questionnaire. If you would like, you can receive a series of evaluations, updated from time to time. You can order this material from the address found on the first page If you have access to the Internet, you can obtain all of this material from the following site: http://www.stop-tabac.ch. All of this material is free of charge.
Prevent from relapse
To prevent a relapse, read our brochures entitled "I just stopped smoking" and "Ex-smokers, persevere." In it, you will find ways to resist smoking in risky situations.
Photocopy and cut out this journal. Over a few days, fill it out before lighting each cigarette. At night, go over it and think about it.
Review of the day of (date): _________________
The situations where the urge to smoke was strongest: ________________________________
The most effective strategies to resist in these situations: _______________________________
* Mood: neutral, worried, stressed, angry, depressed, content, relaxed, tired, bored.
** Intensity of the urge to smoke: none=0, very weak=1, moderate=2, strong=3, extreme=4.
Where to find help and information about quitting smoking?
Additional Internet Links
DOCUMENTS AND LITIGATION
Articles and Publications
Products For Sale
Treatment & Support Services
The stages of change
This brochure was created at the Institute of Social and Preventative Medicine of the University of Geneva, with the support of the Swiss Cancer League, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Swiss-Romande Lottery, the Geneva Department of Social Action and Health, the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, The Swiss Foundation for Health Promotion, Pharmacia & Upjohn, the Swiss Pulmonary League, the Cipret-Genève and the Jura Canton Health Service. We thank the Swiss Association for Smoking Prevention (at) for it help and support.
Copyright (c) Jean-François Etter 1999. All rights reserved.
Author: Jean-François Etter
Translated from French into English 1 March, 1999 by MCART.org
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