FAQs About Quitting Smoking

Quitting smoking? Or getting ready to quit?

Chances are, you’ll be asking yourself a lot of questions about kicking the habit. Get answers to 13 FAQs about quitting smoking from a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Coral Arvon, Director of Behavioral Health and Wellness at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami, Florida.

FAQs for Quiting Smoking

Congratulations on quitting smoking or making the very important decision to do so! Use the many tips in this "FAQs About Quitting Smoking" article to help you stay smoke-free.

Over the last several years, psychologist Dr. Arvon has helped hundreds of men and women at the Pritikin Longevity Center quit smoking, for good.

Dr. Arvon Can Help You Quit Smoking

Dr. Coral Arvon: Director of Behavioral Health and Wellness at the Pritikin Longevity Center and smoking cessation expert.

In one-on-one counseling, she designs highly individualized plans for participants but finds that “often, people have very common questions and concerns.”

Thirteen FAQs about quitting smoking are listed below, with Dr. Arvon’s answers and suggestions.

“Every beginning is difficult, whether it’s quitting smoking or starting an exercise program or learning to enjoy healthy food, but our guests here at Pritikin have found that each day of their new life not only gets easier, it gets better, and often much, much better,” encourages Dr. Arvon.

FAQs About Quitting Smoking | Question #1
How can I get through the first week physically and emotionally when quitting smoking?

An excellent strategy is to continually visualize the future as a non-smoker. Imagine the many rewards you will enjoy. Here are just a few:

  • Your taste buds will start coming back, and the pleasure you’ll get from eating food will improve tremendously.
  • The shortness of breath you’re probably experiencing will decreasing significantly. So will coughing.
  • You’ll have more energy.
  • You’ll have more money! (Cigarettes, as you know, are expensive.)
  • Your skin tone will improve. You’ll look younger.
  • You’ll feel better.
  • Quitting will benefit not only you but also everyone around you – your loved ones, your family, your grandchildren – because they’ll no longer be breathing your second-hand smoke.

Write down a list of all the rewards that you’ll personally enjoy when you quit smoking. And whenever you feel the urge to pick up a cigarette, take that list out. Have it with you ALL the time. Read it. Think about it. Visualize it. They truly are rewards that are priceless. And you’re on your way to achieving them!

FAQs About Quitting Smoking | Question #2
What can I do when a trigger goes off or a craving comes on strong?

Here are three key things you can do:

  • Change the scenery.

    For example, if you used to go to a park outside your home or office for a cigarette break, don’t go to that park anymore – especially at the time you used to smoke. Instead, take a walk. Or find another pleasant area to sit in.  In other words, start a whole new habit – one that is not associated with smoking.

  • Call a friend.

    You may even want to assemble your very own team – a “Quit Team” of people that includes friends or family members you could call when the going gets tough. When the cravings come is the time to use your team. Gather strength from supportive conversation. You’ll likely feel like a new person after the call – ready, once again, to fight the good fight.

  • Eat fruits and veggies.

    Nicotine is largely eliminated from the bloodstream and body tissues via the kidneys. To promote the flushing and decrease cigarette cravings, you should drink plenty of liquids such as water and eat water-rich foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. But steer clear of beverages such as coffee, tea, and alcohol that may be associated with smoking.

FAQs About Quitting Smoking | Question #3
How do you keep from feeling light-headed or dizzy during the first few day of quitting?

Eat small- to moderate-sized meals and snacks throughout the day, as the Pritikin Eating Plan recommends. Eating meals and snacks full of healthy, fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help keep your blood sugar on a nice even keel, which mean you’ll be more likely to stay on a nice even keel.

Stop Smoking For Good!

Often, the best way to quit smoking is to start something new. That's precisely what happens at Pritikin. Smoking Cessation Program at Pritikin

FAQs About Quitting Smoking | Question #4
What health problems are caused by smoking?

It would be much easier to ask: What health problems are not caused by smoking? Here is just a sampling of the serious, life-threatening conditions that are the direct result of smoking:

  • Breathing problems
  • Lung cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney cancer
  • Emphysema

FAQs About Quitting Smoking | Question #5
Does cigarette smoking really affect the people around me? Is there science to prove it?

Yes. The science is strong and consistent. When you smoke, the people around you, especially children, are at risk for developing health problems.

FAQs About Quitting Smoking | Question #6
When I decide to quit smoking, is it a good idea to designate a Quit Day?

Yes, pick a Quit Day, and make it at least a week in the future so that you have sufficient time to assemble your “Quit Team” and choose your method for quitting.

FAQs About Quitting Smoking | Question #7
Isn’t it true that someone already diagnosed with cancer does not need to bother with quitting smoking?

That is not true. Quitting smoking can help the body’s ability to heal. It can also prevent the onset of future cancers. Nearly everyone knows that smoking can cause lung cancer, but few people realize it is also linked to a higher risk for many other kinds of cancer, including cancer of the mouth, nose, sinuses, lip, voice box (larynx), throat (pharynx), esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, ovary, cervix, stomach, colon, and rectum.

FAQs About Quitting Smoking | Question #8
Are there products that can help you quit smoking rather than going cold turkey?

Yes. Products scientifically proven to help with quitting smoking include prescription medications as well as nicotine replacement therapies in the form of patches, gums, sprays, inhalers, and lozenges.

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FAQs About Quitting Smoking | Question #9
If I start to smoke again after I’ve quit, what should I do?

Try quitting again, immediately. Do not ever think of a slip-up as total failure. Slip-ups may happen, but they’re all part of your journey to your healthier lifestyle. Think progress, not perfection. Think about why you slipped up, and try to avoid that situation/triggering event in the future.

FAQs About Quitting Smoking | Question #10
I’ve quit smoking, but I’m now struggling with insomnia. Will it go away eventually?

Very likely. Insomnia is a typical problem for many people when they first quit smoking. But for almost everyone, it is only temporary. Once your body adjusts, you will sleep better than when you were a smoker.

FAQs About Quitting Smoking | Question #11
What are other common withdrawal symptoms I can expect?

Common withdrawal symptoms from quitting smoking include itchiness, cotton mouth, drowsiness, dizziness, anxiety, irritability, constipation, and gas.

FAQs About Quitting Smoking | Question #12
Is it true that a good way to reduce withdrawal symptoms is to reduce nicotine intake over time?

It is true. You can do this by using a nicotine patch or gum, or by a technique called nicotine fading.

Nicotine fading is a process where you either cut back on the level of nicotine by changing to a brand with less nicotine content, or you cut back on the number of cigarettes smoked. Nicotine fading is a temporary measure that helps your body adjust to lower levels of nicotine and can help position you for successful quitting.

Once you’ve cut down on nicotine levels, the withdrawal symptoms you may experience when you quit completely can be decreased. Remember that smoking fewer cigarettes and smoking low-nicotine cigarettes are still hazardous to your health.

The real benefit comes from quitting completely.

FAQs About Quitting Smoking | Question #13
Do you have more tips for staying committed to a smoke-free life?

Absolutely. Try any of the following, all recommended by the American Cancer Society.

  • Avoid temptation. When you first quit smoking, try to stay away from people and places that tempt you to smoke. Later on you’ll be able to handle these situations with more confidence.
  • Change your habits. Drink water instead of coffee or alcohol. Choose foods that don’t make you want to smoke. Take a different route to work. Take a brisk walk instead of a coffee break.
  • Choose other things for your mouth: Use substitutes you can put in your mouth such as sugarless gum or raw vegetables such as carrot sticks. Some people chew on a coffee stirrer or a straw.
  • Get active with your hands: Do something to reduce your stress. Exercise. And keep your hands busy with activities like needlework, woodworking, or social media typing, all of which can help distract you from the urge to smoke. Other tips: Take a hot bath, go for a walk, or read a book.
  • Breathe deeply: When you were smoking, you breathed deeply as you inhaled the smoke. When the urge strikes now, breathe deeply and picture your lungs filling with fresh, clean air. Remind yourself of your reasons for quitting and the benefits you’ll gain as an ex-smoker.
  • Delay: If you feel that you are about to light up, hold off. Tell yourself you must wait at least 10 minutes. Often this simple trick will allow you to move beyond the strong urge to smoke.
  • Reward yourself. What you’re doing is not easy, so you deserve a reward. Put the money you would have spent on tobacco in a jar every day and then buy yourself a weekly treat. Buy a book or some new music, go out to eat, start a new hobby, or join a gym. Or save the money for a major purchase.

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