People who want to stop smoking often put off trying to quit for one of two reasons – they either don’t feel ‘ready’ to quit, or they are worried they’re going to try to quit and find they can’t. If that sounds like you, then read on for the top tips to maximise your next plan to quit.
Preparing to quit
Preparing to quit actually gets to you the point of feeling more ready and helps you identify the triggers and situations that will be the trickiest to get through when you do try.
Stopping smoking is not about how much willpower you have, it is about developing strategies (what you’ll do instead of smoking), support and confidence.
Thinking about how you will quit, what you will need to change in your habits and routines, what it will be like to be a non-smoker, what will be the most difficult situation to manage are all part of preparing.
You can also ‘practise’ quitting by delaying having a cigarette. Build up to missing just one altogether and then maybe two, and so on. The more confidence you build and the more you understand what quitting involves, the closer you are to stopping for good.
And if you don’t succeed on a quit attempt, it doesn’t matter! Think about what tripped you up and start again tomorrow.
The keys to quitting
Everyone’s quitting story is different. The important thing to know is that stopping smoking is achievable – there are now twice as many ex-smokers as there are current smokers in Australia. You can stop smoking. And you don’t have to do it all alone.
Here are five key points to consider when planning to stop smoking:
1. Understand your triggers
There may be specific situations which make you crave a cigarette. Perhaps its driving in traffic, having a drink with friends, or your morning coffee. Or maybe it is when you are bored, angry or stressed. Once you have worked out what your triggers are, you can create strategies to avoid or overcome them.
2. Plan for cravings
Smoking has two elements: the physical dependence on nicotine and the emotional or situational triggers, such as stress, alcohol, social situations or a work break. Addressing both these aspects is critical.
Research shows that the best way to stop smoking is by using stop smoking products or medications (such as patches and gum) and support from Quitline (13 7848). The products and medications help with physical cravings for nicotine, while friendly Quitline counsellors can help you to deal with your emotional or situational triggers.
Using Quitline together with stop smoking products or medications more than doubles your chance of quitting successfully.
3. Chat with Quitline (13 7848)
Quitline won’t tell you why you should stop smoking, you can think of them as your personal coaches to help you increase your chances of success. Quitline counsellors are trained to help you build your motivation, to understand your triggers and to develop a plan for cravings (steps 1 and 2). They can give you advice about stop smoking products or medications, and they can answer general questions about quitting if you’re not completely ready to quit (or even to practise quitting) just yet.
4. Speak to your GP
Chat with your GP about your goal to stop smoking. Your doctor can give you a script for more affordable stop smoking products or medications. They will also help you manage any other medications that might be affected when you stop smoking (you may need to take less of some drugs after you stop smoking).
5. Set a quit date
Setting a quit date gives you time to prepare. It helps you get your head around quitting, and it feels good to take charge of your quit attempt. Pick a date in the next two weeks. Give yourself time to prepare, but don’t leave it too long so that you lose motivation.
Go straight to the experts
There are many ways you can find the right supports and strategies to help you stop smoking.
Quit Victoria is a partnership between VicHealth, the State Government of Victoria and Cancer Council Victoria.
Quit works to improve the wellbeing of all Australians by helping people who smoke to stop through a range of tools and services including Quitline (13 7848), QuitTxt, QuitMail, QuitCoach and a variety of resources.
Visit quit.org.au for more information.