Make an honest list of all the things you like about smoking.
Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper and write them on one side; on the other side make a list of all the things you dislike, such as how it can interfere with your health, work, family, etc., suggests Daniel Z. Lieberman, M.D., director of the Clinical Psychiatric Research Center at George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. (Did you know smoking affects your appearance?) Think about the list over time, and make changes. If you are brave enough, get feedback from family and friends about things they don’t like about your use of cigarettes. When the negative side outweighs the positive side, you are ready to quit.
Then make another list of why quitting won’t be easy.
Be thorough, even if the list gets long and discouraging. Here’s the important part: Next to each entry, list one or more options for overcoming that challenge. For instance, one item might be: “Nicotine is an addictive drug.” Your option might be: “Try a nicotine replacement alternative.” Another reason might be: “Smoking helps me deal with stress.” Your option might be: “Take five-minute walks instead.” (Here are some other healthy ways to manage your stress.) The more you anticipate the challenges to quitting, and their solutions, the better your chance of success.
Set a quit date.
Write a “quit date contract” that includes your signature and that of a supportive witness. (Here are some incredible ways your body will heal itself after you quit!)
Write all your reasons for quitting on an index card.
Here are some to get you started: “My daughter, my granddaughter, my husband, my wife…” You get the idea. Keep it near you at all times. (Here are some things that ex-smokers said helped them quit.)
As you’re getting ready to quit, stop buying cartons of cigarettes.
Instead, only buy a pack at a time, and only carry two or three with you at a time (try putting them in an Altoids tin). Eventually you’ll find that when you want a smoke, you won’t have any immediately available. That will slowly wean you down to fewer cigarettes. (Worried about gaining weight? Here's how to avoid weight gain when you quit.)
Keep a list of when you smoke for a week before quitting.
Also note what you're doing at the time and how bad the craving is to see if specific times of the day or activities increase your cravings, suggests Gaylene Mooney, chair of the American Association for Respiratory Care’s Subcommittee on Smoking and Tobacco-Related Issues. (This might be the best way to quit smoking!)
Prepare a list of things to do when a craving hits.
Suggestions include: take a walk, drink a glass of water, kiss your partner or child, throw the ball for the dog, play a game, wash the car, clean out a cupboard or closet, have sex, chew a piece of gum, wash your face, brush your teeth, take a nap, get a cup of coffee or tea, practice your deep breathing, light a candle. Make copies of the list and keep one with you at all times so when the craving hits, you can whip out the list and quickly do something from it. (When you do quit, here are some things you can do to improve your health.)
Quit when you’re in a good mood.
Studies find that you’re less likely to be a successful quitter if you quit when you’re depressed or under a great deal of stress. (Here are some foods guaranteed to put you in a good mood!)
When your quit date arrives, throw out anything that reminds you of smoking.
That includes all smoking paraphernalia — leftover cigarettes, matches, lighters, ashtrays, cigarette holders, even the lighter in your car. (You should remove these nine things from your car while you're at it.)
Put all the money you’re saving on cigarettes in a large glass jar.
You want to physically see how much you’ve been spending. Earmark that money for something you’ve always dreamed of doing, but never thought you could afford, be it a cruise to Alaska or a first-class ticket to visit an old college friend. (Another way to save money: Don't fall into these retail traps!)