Quit Smoking (cont.)

Pregnant or thinking about having a baby?

There's no better time to quit than now.

Women who smoke have a harder time getting pregnant. And you face more dangers if you do get pregnant:

  • You may lose the baby or have a stillborn (dead) baby.
  • Your baby may be born small.
  • Your baby is more likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Your baby may be cranky, restless, and get sick more often.
  • Your baby is more likely to have learning problems.

The good news is that quitting can help you have a healthy baby. It helps to quit at any time while you are pregnant. It's even better to quit before you get pregnant.

Adapted from Women and Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General - 2001. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001.

Why is quitting so hard?

Many ex-smokers say quitting was the hardest thing they ever did. Do you feel hooked? You're probably addicted to nicotine. Nicotine is in all tobacco products. It makes you feel calm and satisfied. At the same time, you feel more alert and focused. The more you smoke, the more nicotine you need to feel good. Soon, you don't feel "normal" without nicotine. It takes time to break free from nicotine addiction. It may take more than one try to quit for good. So don't give up too soon. You will feel good again.

Quitting is also hard because smoking is a big part of your life. You enjoy holding cigarettes and puffing on them. You may smoke when you are stressed, bored, or angry. After months and years of lighting up, smoking becomes part of your daily routine. You may light up without even thinking about it.

Smoking goes with other things, too. You may light up when you feel a certain way or do certain things. For example:

  • Drinking coffee, wine, or beer
  • Talking on the phone
  • Driving
  • Being with other smokers

You may even feel uncomfortable not smoking at times or in places where you usually have a cigarette. These times and places are called "triggers." That's because they trigger, or turn on, cigarette cravings. Breaking these habits is the hardest part of quitting for some smokers.

Quitting isn't easy. Just reading this guide won't do it. It may take several tries. But you learn something each time you try. It takes will power and strength to beat your addiction to nicotine. Remember that millions of people have quit smoking for good. You can be one of them!

Take the Nicotine Addiction Test to find out how much you depend on nicotine.

Smoking Triggers

Certain things trigger, or turn on, your need for a cigarette. They can be moods, feelings, places, or things you do.

Take this quiz to find out what your triggers are.

Meet these triggers head-on

Knowing your triggers is very important. It can help you stay away from things that tempt you to smoke. It can prepare you to fight the urge when you are tempted.

  • Stay away from places where smoking is allowed. Sit in the non-smoking section at restaurants.
  • Keep your hands busy. Hold a pencil or paper clip. Doodle or write a letter. Carry a water bottle.
  • Stay away from people who smoke. Spend time with non-smoking friends.
  • Put something else in your mouth. Chew sugarfree gum. Snack on a carrot or celery stick. Keep your mouth and hands busy with a toothpick, sugarfree lollipop, or straw.
  • Drink less or stay away from alcohol. Drinking alcohol often makes people want to smoke. Drink juice, soda, or ice water instead.
  • Remember: The urge to smoke will come and go. Cravings usually last only for a very brief period of time. Try to wait it out....
Keep Track of When and Why You Smoke Think about when you smoke and why you smoke. Do this for the next few weeks. Keep a record of every cigarette you smoke. Use the Craving Journal. You will probably need one copy for every day.

You will find that you light up a lot without thinking about it. And you may be tempted to skip writing down some of the cigarettes you smoke. But keeping this journal is very helpful if you do it right. You'll learn about your smoking triggers. And you'll learn which cigarettes are your favorites. These facts will help you prepare to fight your urge to smoke.

Overview of the Basic Steps

Just thinking about quitting may make you anxious. But your chances will be better if you get ready first. Quitting works best when you're prepared. Before you quit, START by taking these five important steps:

S = Set a quit date.
T = Tell family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit.
A = Anticipate and plan for the challenges you'll face while quitting.
R = Remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from your home, car, and work.
T = Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit.

Set a Quit Date

Pick a date within the next two weeks to quit. That gives you enough time to get ready. But it's not so long that you will lose your drive to quit.


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