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Tobacco Free For Life

Updated on March 24, 2010

Becoming tobacco-free is a huge achievement. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that is widely available.

Free Yourself From Tobacco. Tobacco freedom.

During the first few weeks and months, it can be really easy to slip up and have a quick smoke or to think that just one won't do any harm. Unfortunately, it's easy for "just one" to be the start of a downward spiral back to tobacco addiction.

So what can you do?

1. Don't beat yourself up about it.
If you have had a slip up, don't think that you have failed or should give up. Instead, try to put it behind you and think about the situation that caused it to happen.

How were you feeling at the time? Were you feeling under pressure? Were you with other smokers? Were there other factors that played a role, such as alcohol? How did it feel when you had a smoke? Do you wish you hadn't done it, or were you not bothered? Identifying why it happened and how you feel about it can prevent it happening again.

2. Make a plan.
Once you have identified the risk situation that caused you to slip, you need to make a plan for changing your response to that situation.

For example, if you had a cigarette when you were offered it by a friend, you need to practice declining the offer. Think back to the reasons why you decided to quit tobacco to help set your resolve. Now work out what you will say to someone next time they offer you tobacco. Imagine the situation in your head. Replay your friend offering you tobacco and visualize yourself declining. Practice this scenario in your head until you are confident you know what to say the next time this happens.

Similarly, if it happened when you were feeling under pressure, you need to think about alternative stress management strategies. Nicotine won't help you cope with stress as it puts extra strain on your body. But it can be difficult to break this pattern of smoking a cigarette to get through a stressful situation. Practice taking a five minute walk around the block or trying breathing exercises instead of reaching for your old crutch nicotine.

3. Remind yourself why you want to quit.
It sounds obvious, but you need to have those reasons at the forefront of your mind. Whether your reasons are physical, financial, or social you need to remind yourself why it is important for you to stick with it.

4. Get rid of any cigarettes or tobacco you still have.
Removing temptation will make it less likely that you will have a cigarette on a whim.

5. Talk to your buddy, a friend, or call one of the quit tobacco helplines.
Tell them how it happened and how you felt, and ask them for support. Arrange to call them if you feel the need for a cigarette again.

6. Get out of the situation.
If you find yourself in a place where you are tempted, try to remove yourself from the situation. Change rooms, go outside - get out of the situation that made you want to smoke.

To successfully become tobacco-free you need a variety of coping strategies to help you survive the situations where you want to smoke or chew tobacco. Most relapses happen because people haven't prepared well enough or thought about their smoking triggers sufficiently before attempting to quit. It is very difficult to have "just one". Be careful not to let yourself be lulled in to a false sense of security that you are in control of your tobacco habit to the extent where you can have just one. Make sure you are prepared!


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