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Quitting smoking: The first day

Congratulations! You're about to become a nonsmoker.

Today is the first day of the rest of your smoke-free life.

It's a big day, to be sure. And while it probably won't be easy, these tips from the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute can help you get through it with flying colors.

Stay occupied

  • Keep yourself busy. See a movie. Exercise. Take long walks. Go on a bike ride.
  • Spend as much free time as you can in places where smoking isn't allowed. Good places include malls, libraries, museums, theaters, department stores and places of worship. Keep this up until you're sure that you can stay smoke-free.
  • Do you miss having a cigarette in hand? Hold something else. Try a pencil, paper clip, marble or water bottle.
  • Do you miss having something in your mouth? Try toothpicks, cinnamon sticks, lollipops, hard candy, sugar-free gum or carrot sticks.
  • Drink a lot of water and fruit juice. But avoid alcoholic drinks and coffee; they could actually push you to smoke.

Avoid things that tempt you

Today and for the next few weeks, try to stay away from things that you connect with smoking. You can also try to change up your routine:

  • Instead of smoking after meals, get up from the table. Brush your teeth or go for a walk.
  • If you often used to smoke while driving, try something new. Listen to a new radio station. Take a different route. Or, if possible, take the train or bus for a while.
  • If you have to go somewhere you'll be tempted to smoke—at a party, for example—try to be around nonsmokers.

When cravings strike

Remember, a strong urge to smoke usually only lasts about 10 minutes. Try to wait it out. These tips can help:

  • Try munching on a healthful snack such as carrots, pickles, sunflower seeds, apples, celery or raisins.
  • Think clean. Wash your hands or the dishes. Brush your teeth. Take a shower.
  • Light incense or a candle instead of a cigarette.
  • Get a change of scenery. Go outside or into a different room.
  • Take 10 slow, deep breaths and hold the last one. Then breathe out slowly. Relax all of your muscles. Picture a soothing, pleasant scene.
  • No matter what, don't tell yourself, "Just one won't hurt." It will hurt. It will undo the work you've already done.
  • Remember, trying something to beat the urge is always better than not trying anything.

Reward yourself

Buy yourself something special today to celebrate. In every smoke-free minute that goes by, your health and future improve.

Reviewed 10/3/2022

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