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Harvard Commentaries
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Harvard Commentaries
Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School


Take Small Steps at First


April 17, 2012

Tobacco Cessation
22017
Prep for the Ride
Take Small Steps at First
Take Small Steps at First
SmokingStep1Piece9
Start thinking about the ways you can change your smoking habits.
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InteliHealth
2012-04-17
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InteliHealth Medical Content
2015-04-17

Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Take Small Steps at First

Think about ways you can change your smoking habits long before your quit date. You can even continue to smoke as you normally do, but introduce a few small changes to help you prepare for your quit day.
 
Cut back on your smoking even before your quit date, to help make smoking less of a habit and introduce yourself to the feeling of control. Perhaps you can start by skipping the cigarette you have when you read the evening paper. Or maybe you can skip your smoke breaks at work and limit smoking to just your lunch break. If you are like many smokers, you love that first cigarette in the morning. This is not the cigarette you should initially cut out before you've reached your quit date! In due time you'll get rid of that favored smoke, too.
 
Make minor tweaks in your routine so that smoking will be a little less convenient for you. Here are some suggestions:
  • Ban smoking in your home. Throw out your ashtrays, clean the place from top to bottom (getting rid of the smell), and declare your home a smoke-free zone. Post "No Smoking" signs for added effect.
  • Quit emptying your ashtrays. Assuming you didn't follow the first suggestion, try the opposite approach. An ashtray full of stale cigarette butts may be unpleasant enough to keep you motivated. You may be shocked by how much you smoke when the evidence is in front of you.
  • Don't buy cigarettes by the carton. Buy them one pack at a time. (This is costlier and inconvenient, which may help to discourage you.) And don't buy a new pack until you finish the one you have.
  • Keep your cigarettes in a different place. Changing the routines you associate with smoking can help make you aware of when you smoke and how much you smoke.
Make smoking as inconvenient as you can. This helps lay the groundwork for breaking the smoking habit. The goal is for you to be emotionally ready when your quit day arrives. Every small step you take between now and then will make you better prepared for that moment.

 

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