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Make a Plan to Quit Smoking

Cigarette butt on top of a calendar with the date circled and a written message saying

It's not too late...you can quit your smoking habit and improve your health! People who stop smoking before the age of 50 reduce their risk of dying in the next 15 years by 50 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. Not only could quitting this habit save your life, but it could also improve lung function and circulation.


The experts at the UT Health Northeast Ralph and Mary Prince Pulmonary Center are dedicated to diagnosing and treating lung diseases, including COPD and emphysema, which can be associated with smoking. We also offer lung screenings that can help detect abnomalities.


Make a Plan

1. Get ready by marking it on the calendar and making a commitment to adjusting lifestyle habits and rountines.

2. Ask for help from friends, family, coworkers, and support groups. 

3. Take up a new hobby or learn a new skill to take your mind off of smoking.

4. Take it one day at a time and reward yourself for the small successes.


If you're like most smokers who have tried to quit, you may have tried unsuccessfully several times. But you can try again and succeed.

The following suggestions can help you kick the habit, again, for good.

Understand your relapse

If you relapse, the first thing you should do is not give up. Instead, take stock of the situation. When did the relapse start and what caused it?

Once you understand why it happened, you can begin to consider ways to get back on track.

Here are some steps you can take if you slip and smoke a cigarette:

  • Treat the situation like an emergency. Stop smoking immediately! Get rid of all cigarettes.

  • Make a list of coping strategies sure to work for you this time; forget about those that didn't work for you in the past.

  • Review your list of reasons for wanting to quit whenever you feel you're slipping back into your old habit. When the urge hits, say, "I'm going to make it this time."

  • Call a quit smoking hotline for encouragement. Research has shown that such hotlines really do help people quit by giving them someone to talk to when they get the urge to smoke.

Prevent relapse

One way to head off a relapse is to practice handling some possible situations that might tempt you to smoke, so you'll be prepared for them.

Ask yourself what you should do if one of these common situations arises:

  • You're at a party and a friend offers you your old brand of cigarettes.

  • You're under a lot of pressure at work and your supervisor wants a report right away. You can't concentrate and see a pack of cigarettes on a co-worker's desk.

The key to coping with smoking urges is to plan ahead, so that wherever you are, you'll have something to do instead of smoking.

 For example, whenever you want a cigarette, try the four D's:

  • Delay: The urge to smoke will pass whether you light up or not.

  • Deep breathe.

  • Drink water.

  • Do something to take your mind off smoking.

© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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