Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
Smoking: Do I Want to
How do you feel about giving up
Check the box below that best describes how you
feel about quitting smoking:
I like to smoke, and I'm not planning to
I like lots of things about smoking, but I would
like to quit.
I’m ready to quit smoking
If you answered, "I like to smoke, and I'm
not planning to quit," ask yourself this question: Why have so many other
people quit smoking? Consider this: 50 million Americans are former smokers.
What do you think were their reasons for quitting? Some of those reasons may
also apply to you. Do you have problems with breathing, your heart or high blood
pressure? Does cancer run in your family? You can lower your chance of having
these problems by quitting smoking.
If you answered, "I like lots of things about
smoking, but I would like to quit," you are like most smokers. Now ask
yourself this question: How will I be better off after I quit smoking? You might
come up with some of the following answers:
- My health will improve. In what way?
- I'll save money. How much?
- My house and car will be cleaner. Why is this
important to you? ___________________________________
- My family and friends will be glad. Why?
- I’ll feel better about myself. In what
- Another reason is:
more reasons you have to quit smoking, the more likely you are to follow through
on your plan to quit.
If you answered, "I'm ready to quit smoking
now," your doctor wants to help you succeed. The following are
some suggestions to help you understand why you smoke. If you know why you
smoke, you can make an effective plan for quitting.
What are your smoking triggers?
Start by listing some of the times when you most
want a cigarette. These are your "triggers" to smoking. Triggers are events that
set off your desire to smoke a cigarette. How would you complete the phrase, "I
want a cigarette..."?
- When I see someone else smoking.
- When I see cigarettes in an ashtray.
- When I am cleaning the house.
- When the telephone rings.
- When I am relaxing.
- When I drink a cup of coffee.
- When I have an alcoholic drink.
- During or after meals.
- When I am driving a car.
- When I am on a coffee break.
- After leaving work.
- When I am watching TV.
For each trigger that applies
to you, think of something you could do that makes you less likely to smoke. For
example, instead of smoking after meals, you could get right up and brush your
Do you use cigarettes to relieve
Smokers often use cigarettes to help them cope
with certain uncomfortable feelings. Think about whether you do this. You may
have smoked cigarettes when you felt:
- Anxious or stressed
- Sorry for yourself
Once you know that you use
cigarettes to help you cope with stressful or difficult times, you will be
better able to get through those times without smoking. Deep breathing,
relaxation exercises and guided imagery have helped many smokers quit. Ask your
doctor for more information about these techniques.
What can I do about nicotine
If you smoke on a regular basis, you are
probably physically dependent on nicotine. You will have withdrawal symptoms
when you stop smoking.
Your body gets rid of half the nicotine in your
bloodstream every 1 to 2 hours, so it doesn't take long after you finish a
cigarette before your body cries out for another. You may become irritable and
agitated, have trouble sleeping, have difficulty concentrating or experience
mood swings. These withdrawal symptoms are often the reason smokers give up
their effort to quit. They are worse during the first few days after you quit,
but most are gone in a few weeks.
Medications doctors can use to treat nicotine
withdrawal symptoms include the following:
- Nicotine gum (brand name: Nicorette)
- Nicotine patches (brand names: Habitrol,
- Nicotine nasal spray (brand name: Nicotrol NS)
- Nicotine inhaler (brand name: Nicotrol Inhaler)
A medicine called bupropion
(brand name: Zyban) can also help you quit smoking. It does not contain
nicotine, but it helps you resist your urges to smoke. Your family doctor can
tell you about these medicines and how medicine can help you quit smoking.