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Health Information Smoking

Making the Commitment to Quit

Practical advice when you’re ready to quit smoking

One of the keys to success with making changes in your smoking habits is to commit to a plan. “If you’re ready to do this now, really have a plan and write it down,” says Arthur Hoffman, MD, MPH, director of the Partnership for Prevention, an outreach program for people who smoke. “Know concretely what you’re going to do. Commit to an action, not just a vague idea.”

When you’re ready to quit:

  • Set a quit date
    • Choose a date that is not more than about two weeks away (this is enough time to prepare, but not so much time that you lose your resolve to quit).
  • Tell others your plan to quit
    • Telling others makes you hold to your commitment; plus, your friends and family can provide support and encouragement.
  • Remove all tobacco
    • Remove all tobacco from your home, your car, your office, etc.
    • Don’t think that you should keep a pack “just in case”; this can undermine your commitment.
  • Anticipate and plan for challenges
    • Know what triggers your urge to smoke and be prepared with a plan to fight the craving in those difficult situations.
  • Talk to your doctor
    • Let your doctor know that you’re quitting. He or she will be glad to hear the good news and can also recommend a smoking cessation program, support group or medication that can help you.
  • Have support
    • Family
    • Friends
    • Smoking cessation program
    • Support group
    • Medicine

Another key to success when making these changes is to have confidence that you can fight the urge. “You need to have a concrete plan that works for you that can help you meet the urge, face it in the moment and overcome it, even in the most difficult situations,” says Hoffman.

You may want to keep a journal and record your urges and your confidence at the time of experiencing them.

You can record:

  • The time of day the urge occurred
  • What you were doing
  • Who you were with
  • How you were feeling emotionally or psychologically at the time
  • What you think triggered the urge
  • The intensity level of the urge or craving
  • Your level of confidence in your ability to fight the urge

“In our program, we go through an inventory with people,” Hoffman says. “For example, you may have only 20 percent confidence that you can resist the urge in an emotional situation. We help you work out what you could do at the time of an urge instead of giving in to smoking.”

There are four different categories of things you can do when you have a serious craving:

  • Relax
  • Do something to take your mind off of the urge
  • Do something to substitute
  • Face the urge (and wait it out)

For example, you can:

  • Call a friend
  • Exercise
  • Pray
  • Meditate

“It’s all about building your confidence, so that you know that you can face even the most difficult situation without resorting to smoking again,” says Hoffman.


Find out more about our smoking program at Rush that meets smokers "where they are now" and provides the most effective assistance possible, visit the Partnership for Prevention home page.

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Looking for information on other health topics? Visit our Health Information home page.

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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