Whichever way you look at it, smoking stinks.
However, just like many of the things that are bad for us, giving it up is terribly hard.
Especially if you don’t know what to do.
That’s where we come in.
We’ll show you how to quit smoking as easily and painfully as possible – all you have to do is follow the tips below, and, of course, be determined to give up smoking. Both your lungs and the people around you will thank you.
Table of Contents
Why is smoking so bad?
Smoking is bad for a variety of reasons, some of which you might be familiar with.
But did you know that second-hand smoking may even cause ear infections? Or thinning hair?
There are plenty of diseases that are linked to smoking, some of which are pretty unexpected. As a matter of fact, simply knowing about them might be enough reason – and motivation – to quit smoking.
(It’s all a matter of habit, really. We’ll get to that later).
Cigarette smoke gets in contact with your mouth first, so we’ll start by presenting the most common mouth conditions associated with smoking.
One of the most common condition – universal, really – is bad breath. As soon as you smoke, your mouth starts stinking – and it only gets worse, as time goes by. Hours after you’ve smoked you develop a rancid reek that will make your interlocutor involuntarily turn away – and, simultaneously, just as involuntarily dislike you.
Just think about it: how many people failed to cut a deal because their mouth stank?
But funky breath is the best of the nasty effects smoking has on your mouth (stained teeth coming close behind).
Take oral thrush, for instance. Just google it – it looks terrible, really.
Of course, thrush is not the main cause of oral thrush – antibiotics are, in fact – but it counts as one of the most common risk factors associated with oral thrush in healthy adults. And while this condition looks worse than it actually is (but that’s pretty easy, if you think about it), it’s still pretty unpleasant – sore throat, burning pain in the mouth, and even bleeding.
You don’t really want that, do you?
There’s far worse.
Oral cancer. Pretty darn bad, by any measurable standards.
The first thing you notice – or don’t, most of the time – is usually a tiny little red spot. It won’t heal itself – but still, it won’t cause that much trouble to get you worried.
Later on, you notice bright red patches in your mouth.
Chances are it’s cancer.
Now, the earlier you go to the doctor, the likelier the chances you’ll beat your cancer and survive.
But 1 in 5 people who get mouth cancer die. Not the most enticing odds out there, are they?
Don’t smoke, and you’ve just cut a big hunk of your cancer risk.
As you inhale tobacco smoke, you’re slowly ruining your lungs, too.
Lung cancer is the most lethal type of cancer – but it’s not the only lung condition you’re likely to get if you smoke.
Take smoker’s cough, for instance. As your lungs try to clean themselves, you’ll be hacking away most of the time. That’s really annoying both for you and for those around you.
Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are also related to smoking. Both are chronic conditions – they’re also commonly known chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. What happens is that basically your airs sacs get damaged, which makes breathing more difficult as years go by – and these conditions are irreversible.
Not the happiest prospects, obviously.
If you’re suffering from asthma and you smoke, your asthma attacks will become longer and more frequent.
Colds, flu and pneumonia are also more frequent and longer in smokers than in non-smokers. Giving up smoking will reduce the frequency of these conditions.
However, the real danger is cancer.
Like we’ve mentioned, lung cancer is the real horror when it comes to smoking. In the US, about 200,000 people are newly diagnosed with lung cancer every year, and about 160,000 people die. In fact, 25% of cancer deaths are caused by lung cancer.
Chances of getting lung cancer if you smoke until old age are really high – the risk is a solid 25% if you smoke more than 5 cigarettes per day, and this risk only grows as time goes by. The average age for lung cancer diagnosis is 70, but it can appear as early as 45 – and it’s devastating in both cases, as it’s pretty hard to diagnose early.
Heart and Other Conditions
Smoking is linked to heart disease, too. 25 % of all heart disease deaths are caused by smoking.
Tobacco smoke raises your blood pressure while simultaneously reducing the amount of oxygen that reaches your heart. It also harms your blood vessels and speeds up your heart rate – all of which contribute blood clogging and increase the risk of heart attacks or strokes.
Smokers are up to four times more likely to develop heart disease than non-smokers, and the risk grows considerably for women who both smoke and take birth-control pills.
However, your chances of getting heart disease drop significantly as soon as you stop smoking, and they keep dropping if you take up an active life style. Since smokers don’t exercise a lot, it’s likely that this sedentary lifestyle also contributes to heart disease. Again, quitting smoking means you’ll be more capable of exercising – which means less risk of getting heart and lung disease.
Mouth, lungs and heart aside, smoking is also associated with an array of other conditions, one worse than the other.
Cancer is the worst of these – and smoking can cause virtually all cancers in your body. Aside from cancers of lung and mouth, smoking may also cause cancers of the blood, larynx, liver, pancreas, kidney, stomach, bladder, colon and bladder, and all sorts of other cancers.
Women who want to have babies are also less likely to get pregnant if they smoke (their smoking partners won’t be as fertile, either). If they do get pregnant, the fetus in in danger of getting an array of diseases, and there’s also an increased risk of preterm delivery, or even stillbirth.
Bone health is another condition associated with smoking. It seems that the more you smoke, the more likely you are to get a broken bone – perhaps it has something to do with a lack of exercise, too. Smokers are also more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
Smoking may also cause type 2 diabetes mellitus (smokers have a 40% higher chance of getting it than non-smokers).
Finally, even your eyes will probably suffer – you’re more likely to get cataract if you smoke.
50 ways to quit smoking
The following tips are all based on a few principles: quitting smoking means replacing the habit with something else, giving yourself less opportunities to smoke – less triggers, so to speak – and calling to others for help.
We’ve organized the following tips in two categories, based on whether or not you can follow them by yourself – and it turns out most of them you can do alone easily. We’ve also provided a list of diet and nutrition tips, since quitting smoking often means putting on a few extra pounds.
Before reading on, think of your efforts to quit smoking as though they were a battle against tobacco – and the following tips are your weapons. In a war, you need as many weapons as you can get – so you’d better make use of as many of the following tips as you can. Each of them is good in itself, but powerless if used alone.
For instance, you could be using plenty of oat extract – but if that’s all you do, you’re not that likely to win the war. Add to that a list, some behavioral therapy, regular jogging session, gum replacement, and meditation – and you’re that much likely to get rid of smoking once and for all.
Finally, one thing you should know (and probably do): Giving up smoking is not easy, and you’ll likely relapse quite a few times. No matter how often that happens, always pick yourself up and start quitting again – you’ll manage, sooner or later.
The more of these tips you use, the sooner you’ll get rid of smoking. You’ll be triumphant in your own little war on tobacco.
How to Quit Smoking
There are plenty of ways to quit smoking by yourself – after all, that’s exactly what you need, right?
Set up the “I Quit” date: Your brain loves order – even if you might not. Picking up a reasonable date to quit smoking is a great way to subconsciously preset yourself to not want to smoke, hopefully. Circle it in your calendar, print out a poster – whatever you need to remind yourself of the date you’ll finally stop smoking.
While you’re at it, you might want to remove all smoking accessories from your house and your car – lighters, matches, ashtrays and, of course, cigarettes.
Gum it up: Replacing cigarettes with bubble gum is one simple trick that you could use. Your brain is really all about habits, and if you manage to replace one with another, you’ll soon get rid of smoking. Get yourself stacked on Hubba Bubba or Orbit, and start chewing as soon as you crave smoking.
Wait it out: This mind trick might seem a bit complicated, but it’s really easy once you get the hang of it. As soon as you feel like smoking, tell yourself you’re going to do it after 5 minutes, then start doing something else as soon as you’ve decided on your wait-out period. Chances are you’re going to trick yourself out of smoking that cigarette. Of course, you’re going to need something to do during those precious five minutes – keeping yourself busy is always a good way to stop smoking.
Start jogging: You’re not going to run a whole lot if you smoke. Your stamina is significantly reduced if you smoke, which means you can’t really expect to complete a 3-mile course on your first day. However, jogging tends to become addictive – replacing one addiction with another might just be the way to go. You’ll get healthier, too.
List it up: Think of all the reasons you have to quit smoking, and write everything down on a nice little sheet of paper (perfume it, too – you’ll likely associate it with something positive, which will further increase your motivation to quit smoking). Keep that list handy, and read it in the morning and before you go to bed. Make it your prayer. Most people forget why exactly they want to keep smoking – yes, for many smoking is not just a health issue. Somebody’s date might scoff at cigarette smoke, somebody else’s mom really hates finding lighters in jackets, and the list could go on and on. Whatever your reasons – whether we’re talking about making yourself more socially acceptable, or simply getting rid of that particularly nasty morning headache – you’ll want to keep them handy.
Carry few cigarettes: instead of always keeping your pack in your pocket, only carry one or two in an Altoids tin. You’ll want to smoke, but you won’t have a cig – and unless you’re really determined – or stubborn, call it what you will – you won’t smoke for a certain period of time. After a week or two, you’ll find yourself craving less nicotine.
Stop it when you’re light: Quitting when you’re down in the dumps will likely get you smoking again – so if you’re really depressed about not being able to quit, and you’ve just decided to go cold turkey, you might want to wait a bit until your mood improves. Quitting while you’re happy – or relatively so, at least – means less stress and more clear-headed determination, which cuts down on your cigarette craving.
Start saving: Don’t just stop buying cigarettes – start saving the money, too. Get a nice big jar, and throw in whatever amount you’d normally be spending on cigarettes. Soon you’ll see money piling up – your money, now available for whatever else you’ve always wanted to do.
Suck on toothpicks: We know it, you don’t want to look like the Marlboro cowboy, but carrying around a few toothpicks – flavored ones, if that’s what you’re into – will help you give up smoking faster. As soon as you feel the need to smoke, pop a toothpick and start sucking on it – you’ll still be sucking on something, but you won’t be stinking as much. You won’t get cancer, either.
Just walk it: Exercise is always helpful in getting your mind off those nasty cigarettes. 5-minute walks are a great way to replace smoking with something much more productive. If you crave a cigarette, go out and start strolling – it’ll be much healthier, and you’ll feel like you’re actually doing something. Think of it as the lazier alternative – or the more convenient, depending on how you want to look at it – of jogging. It’s much more work-friendly, too.
Use signs: People tend to follow instructions and signs – so making “No smoking” signs and sticking them around in your house and car will make you want to smoke less. It’ll also let other people know you’re serious about not smoking, so they’ll likely refrain from smoking, too. It’s really a great way to create a smoke-free environment.
Brush your teeth: Rather than stinking your breath with a cigarette, you might find it more fun – and much better tasting – to simply brush your teeth. It’ll improve your gums if you use the right toothpaste, too, and it will also clear away the nasty yellowness commonly associated with smoking. Of course, if you’re a pack-a-day guy, you shouldn’t really brush your teeth twenty times a day – but including this tip in your daily routine is a good way to cut down by at least two cigarettes. If your teeth have been stained for too long, consider seeing a dentist to have your teeth whitened
Write about it: Many people found it helpful to share their quitting experience on blogs and social media. You might want to do that, too, but even if you’re not comfortable being that much in the open, you can still take up the habit of writing about your experience in a diary. Use it for practical purposes, like analyzing your cravings – what exactly made you want to smoke at a particular moment? You might find that doing so will reduce your need to smoke.
Go camping: If your day-to-day life is filled with smoking-triggers (which is probably the case, if you’re a heavy smoker), going out in the wild for a few days will help you break out of your tobacco prison. Poetic language aside, living in the woods for a while – especially if you can do it by yourself – will help you give up tons of habits that you’d otherwise be unable to kick – like smoking, alcohol, sleeping well into the afternoon, and any other unproductive, unhealthy stuff you might be doing at home.
Get nicotine, but don’t smoke: Nicotine patches, lozenges, gum, and even inhalers – they’re all meant to give you the nicotine you need without the much-hated smoke. They actually work, but you’ll need your doctor’s permission, if you’re under 18. Plus, you might still want to smoke – nicotine addiction is not the only reason people smoke, after all. A big part of it is the social aspect, and another one is the habit – both of which can be kicked with other tricks. But killing the nicotine crave won’t hurt, either.
Avoid bars and pubs: If you know places that allow smoking indoors – though that’s now illegal pretty much anywhere – you might want to avoid those. Start hanging out at sports centers and gyms, rather than shanty pubs, and you’ll soon find you’ll be much healthier, happier, and, of course, smoke free.
Sleep: This might be a bit of a desperate measure, but you might find it helpful, if you’ve got a real bad craving. Sleeping cancels your craving – and you won’t wake up wanting to light up, too. Obviously, you won’t be able to do it if you’re at work – but it’ll come in handy if you want to light one up just before going to bed. Eat an apple and go to sleep instead – it’ll do wonders.
Play Solitaire: This is actually a pretty good way to keep you from smoking during your short breaks from work. Solitaire is engaging and fun, and it’ll take your minds of your cigarettes. If you can’t do it at work, replace that with Youtube videos, or whatever suits you – any short game will do, really, as long as it keeps you away from your precious – but oh-so-dangerous – cigarettes.
Throw your cigarettes: Literally throw them away. This might work in giving up smoking for good. Using powerful mental imagery – stuff like throwing cigarettes away, burying them, setting them on fire, throwing them in the river etc – will give you that mental boost to stop smoking. Even if it’s for just a couple of weeks, it will still be a small victory – and you don’t win wars without winning battles.
Reward yourself: Create milestones – things like “first smoke-free day” or “first smoke-free week” and reward yourself for each of them (check out the friend contest trick below, it’s based on a similar principle). Even if it’s just a cake – it’ll still keep you motivated to give it up. It’s a good idea to keep the milestones short and doable – this way you’ll get more rewards, and you won’t feel overcome by the pressure of never smoking again.
Keep an active mind: A good way to get out of bad cravings is to prevent them from starting in the first place. By being constantly active – even if it just means solving a crossword puzzle – you’ll make it less likely to light up just because you’re bored. You’ll find out plenty of interesting things in the process, or you might simply learn a new skill – an obvious advantage over the stinky habit you’re just trying to quit.
Educate yourself: Reading this article is a pretty good way to start. As we’ve already mentioned, knowing about the risks associated with smoking is a good way to kick the habit – though you’ll probably need to do lots of other things, too.
Plus, you can always read a book on how to quit smoking. Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking has been successful for so many people, it’s impossible you won’t benefit from reading it.
Imagine your little ones smoking: Smokers breed smokers – if you’ve got a baby (or two, or three, or more) your children will likely smoke, too. Spend some time thinking about it – do you really want cute little Susan to ruin that beautiful face and melodious voice with cigarettes? Picturing your children smoking might be an effective way to stop smoking.
Induce nausea: A good way to stop smoking – though it means risking your health quite a bit, at least in the short run – is smoking yourself sick. Buy a pack and start chain-smoking – halfway through, you’ll probably stop enjoying your cigarettes. By the last cig, you’ll probably want to throw up more than you’ll want to light up one more.
Don’t drink: And we don’t mean water. If you’re a smoker and you enjoy a glass of beer once in a while, chances are you’re combining them, too. If you give up drinking, you’ll have less opportunities to smoke – and you’ll basically give up drinking, too. This means doubling the health benefits.
Take hot baths: Chances are you might get grouchy if you’ve just given up smoking. A hot bath will help with that. Soaking in the tub will calm you down, clean you, and help you sleep better, too – all of which you’d never get by smoking. Plus, if you’re making it out to be an hour-long activity, it will surely be an hour in which you didn’t smoke – which is another small victory in and of itself.
Read: Rather than smoking, a better way to end your day is to enjoy a great book. Pick up a book on something you’re interested in, and start educating yourself – or simply read for pleasure. Whatever your reading list includes, it’ll definitely be more productive than smoking yourself to a slow death.
Take naps: Giving up smoking might mean you’ll feel more tired, especially towards the middle of the day. Taking a nap is a good way to cope with post-smoking fatigue – and, again, it will be that much more time in which you haven’t smoked.
Drink plenty of natural juice: The nice, fresh taste of a good apple juice is enough to keep you sipping through the day – and it’ll keep your mouth busy, too. Fruit juice is a good substitute for cigarettes, and it’s much healthier than sugar-filled Coke or other sodas.
Light a dummy: Not an actual dummy, though. Lighting a candle or an incense stick is a good way to light something, if that’s what you like to do. It’ll also create a cozier atmosphere, and the novelty of the whole situation will be less likely to trigger a cigarette crave. You’ll even have the opportunity to meditate while the candle is still burning – another good way to reduce the need to smoke.
You can find great anti-tobacco incense sticks on Amazon. HEM Anti-Tobacco Incense give off a fresh, minty smell – a perfect choice if you’re trying to quit and need something to light up.
Meditate: Meditation – whether it’s focusing on something, repeating mantras, or simply kicking out all though for a couple of minutes – will train your will power, and you’ll be that much capable to resist the urge to smoke.
If you’re not sure what meditating is all about, you can try Maritza’s Meditation for Beginners set.
Quit Smoking: Seek Help from Friends and Family
Get social: Spend time with friends who don’t smoke – if you’ve got any. If not, it might be a good idea to get some. Join a gym, take dance lessons – whatever gets you social and away from cigarettes will do the trick. It’ll also be a good opportunity to spend time doing something that will actually improve your health, rather than damaging, while at the same time tightening those precious social bonds.
Share it: If you’ve decided to quit smoking, telling everyone about it is a great idea. That’s because social expectations are really important – and if people know you’ve stopped smoking, lighting up in front of them will make you feel ashamed. Which means you probably won’t light up as often (or sneak-smoke behind their backs).
Date a non-smoker: If you’re single, dating a non-smoker might be a good way to quit smoking, especially if you really like your partner. If they’re serious about not smoking and you’re serious about giving it up, you’re much more likely to succeed if you’ve got their full support. Spending time with your cigarette-free loved one will keep you away from smoke triggers, and you’ll eventually learn how to give up the nasty habit for good.
Join an online support group: from Facebook to independent groups, there are plenty of chances to get support from fellow quitters. Joining one of those groups will offer you lots of chances to both share your experiences and read others’ – which helps in getting you over the inevitable bumps on the smoke-free road.
Go to a psychologist: Behavioral therapy is a really effective way to stop smoking. It will hardwire your brain not to crave cigarettes anymore – you and the specialist will be working together in identifying the triggers, and programming them to lead to something else (for instance, chewing gum). Of course, the exact way in which this type of therapy goes depends on each individual psychologist, but it’s mostly focused on changing how you respond to stimuli.
Go to the doctor: Consulting your doctor is another way to get rid of smoking. Certain drugs will reduce your nicotine craving (stuff like buproprion or varenicline), but you can only get them with a doctor’s prescription.
Pick a non-smoker and take up a hobby together: It could be anything from chess to home carpentry – whatever you do, being in the company of someone who doesn’t smoke will make you much less likely to smoke, too.
Spend time with your kids: If you’ve got them, chances are you don’t want them second-hand smoking your cigarettes. Setting aside an hour to play or have fun with your children will remind you how important it is to stay healthy in order to fully enjoy being with your family. At the very least, it will just be an extra cigarette-free hour.
Scoop other’s memories: You might not know it, but people who know you well usually remember difficult challenges you overcame – even though you may not. Ask them to tell you about it, and you’ll gain confidence as you relive those memories of past success.
Play tennis: It appears that tennis players – and people who simply visualize others playing tennis – are much less likely to smoke. Joining a tennis club will not only be great for your health, it will keep you away from your cigs, too – and it will likely make you want to smoke less once you get home.
Quit smoking together: If you have a friend who’d like to kick the habit, join them and start quitting together. Share your experiences, help each other when your cravings are worse, and have fun doing something with the time you’d otherwise be smoking away.
Set up a quitting contest: Competition is always a great way to achieve your goals – and taking part in a quitting one will help you quit for good. Get a quitting friend to join you in a quitting contest, and start counting how many cigarettes each of you manages to cut back on, day after day. See how many days you can win in a week, and reward the winner – you can place bets, or you can simply decide on a certain trophy.
Eat lean: If you’ve just given up smoking, chances are you’ll be gaining in weight. Limiting your fat intake is a good way to prevent gaining weight. Eat plenty of vegetables, and avoid stuff like junk food, sodas, and alcohol. A good change in your diet means you’ll be limiting your triggers, too – if a nice hamburger usually called for a cigarette, a lean salad might not.
Drink plenty of water: Not only does water eliminate the toxins in your body, it will also keep your appetite down. Plus, having a glass of water every half an hour will likely turn into a pleasant habit – a good replacement for the more dangerous one you’re trying to kick.
Cut down on caffeine: People tend to get all edgy if they stop smoking but don’t cut down on caffeine. Cut down on your daily caffeine intake, and use decaf coffees as much as possible, at least until a few weeks have past. This way you’ll be less fidgety, and you’ll remove a trigger, too – caffeine and cigarettes usually go hand in hand.
Have calorie-free snacks: Avoid stuff like doughnuts and pretzels for calorie-free snacks like sugar-free gum or hard candies, carrot and celery sticks, and sliced jicama.
Werther’s Original Sugar Free Hard Candy are great if you’re looking for a quick sugar-free treat.
End meals with a gum: Smokers usually like to smoke after they’ve eaten – while this may be pleasant enough, it surely won’t work towards kicking the habit. You might want to chew gum after meals, instead of lighting up – it’ll keep your teeth clean, too.
Use oat extract: It seems that 1 milliliter four times a day will significantly reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke. Stop by your local health food store and get some today – it might not get you completely rid of smoking, but it’ll sure help.
This oat seed extract from Herb Pharm is both gluten-free and non-GMO, which means it’s that much healthier, too.
Eat garlic and ginger: These two foods are great for helping you get rid of the nasty toxins your body has accumulated. Ginger helps with relieving nausea, too – a common symptom, if you’ve just quit smoking.
Remember that war metaphor we’ve started our list of tips with?
You’re at the beginning of a war right now.
Take up a few moments to create a war plan – and select as many powerful weapons as you can. Stack up on bubble gum, get a gym membership, buy some running shoes, shop for oat extract – get yourself ready to fight the squalid addiction right now.
After all, you know it’s bad, right? You just can’t imagine how bad it really is.
That’s why you need to get informed. Start reading, check out the great YouTube videos out there, join dedicated clubs – in short, gather up as much info as you can on why exactly smoking is so bad, and what it can really do to you and to those around you.
You should now be ready to go to war. Pick a start date, and start quitting.
It won’t be easy. The first couple of weeks you might have headaches, nausea, you might feel tired, and your appetite will probably soar through the roof.
However, there’s a solution for each of these unpleasant symptoms. Water and fruit juice helps with headaches, ginger is great for nausea, and low-fat foods will keep you thin and full. An occasional nap will deal with the tiredness – and cutting down on coffee will help with being less agitated.
The thing is, the tips we’ve given you are designed to deal with every unpleasant symptom quitting smoke might induce. Keep this article handy – print it out, if you must – and consult it whenever you feel like lighting one up.
It will be another battle coming up.
And it takes lots of battles to win your personal anti-tobacco war.