Not a puff

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We’re now about a week into the new year. For many people who recently tried to quit, the tricky part will now be staying stopped. In my last post I emphasized the importance of single-mindedness in successfully stopping smoking. Part of that involves clarity of mind that you will not have a single puff of tobacco (or any other) smoke. For many people the thing that trips them up, is the seemingly logical idea that “just one cigarette won’t do much harm”. In one sense that is correct – a single cigarette on its own is unlikely to kill you. But there is plenty of research and plenty of experience from people trying to quit, showing that having a few slips seems to be highly predictive of a full relapse shortly afterwards. It doesn’t have to happen that way. So if you have already had a few slips, don’t feel that you’ve already blown it. Rather it means you have got to be extra focused for the next few weeks to not have another puff. And if you havn’t had a single lapse since your quit day, you are off to a great start and its really important to keep that going. With every additional smoke-free day you achieve, your chances of remaining smoke-free in the long run increase significantly.

So what can you do to make it easier to stay smoke-free? We’ve discussed a lot of the methods on previous blog posts (see one at end of December that lists all of 2007 posts), and I’d be interested to hear directly from readers’ experiences. But in my experience, making sure you have gotten rid of all your tobacco, staying away from places where people are smoking, making use of available social support (whether friends, family or formal treatment services), and taking effective tobacco treatment medicines (e.g. NRT, Chantix or Zyban) are the main factors.

If you are starting to doubt your ability or resolve to stay quit, remember that that’s how the addiction works sometimes. It pops little questioning thoughts into your head (one won’t do any harm, perhaps I can just cut down instead of quitting, maybe this isn’t the best time for me to quit, maybe the stress will be worse for me than smoking, maybe the weight gain will be worse for my health than smoking…etc..etc). Almost always its best to see these for what they are: the addiction trying to get you to smoke again. If you can keep your focus on not putting another cigarette in your mouth, and never inhaling another puff of smoke, you will succeed.
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About the Author


MA, MAppSci, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Foulds is an expert in the field of tobacco addiction.

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