12 Steps for Quitting Smoking


Melissa Killeen

The most sought after recovery coaches are smoking cessation coaches. Hired by individuals, health care corporations and wellness centers, these coaches are often quitters themselves and can advise others on how to stay “quit.” I received some excellent pointers from my smoking cessation coach.

If you are currently a smoker, quitting the habit could be one of the most important things you will ever do. In fact, if you quit now, you will most likely be adding seven years to your life. If you quit now, your lungs will start to repair themselves. If you quit now, your hair will stop smelling like an ashtray, and after one load of laundry, your clothes will smell wonderful, too. Many people try to quit and fail, many say quitting smoking was the most difficult addiction to quit. But it is not an impossible task. Thousands of people, just like you, have decided to quit and have succeeded. You too, can be among these successful former-smokers. Here are some tips that will help you to quit smoking once and for all.

  1. Make a quit date. Give yourself a minimum of a month, up to three months. Write down your quit date. Place the date and this affirmation on your bathroom mirror: As of____(date)___I am a non-smoker. Success in all spheres of life begins with a commitment to being successful in achieving a goal. If you are negative about quitting, or non-committal or think you can never quit, you are right. If you commit to smelling great, saving $6-$10 a day by not buying tobacco products, and enjoy going up the stairs without getting winded, you have taken the first step.
  2. Count how many cigarettes you smoke a day. Remove one cigarette a day from that count. For example: If you smoke a pack a day, on day one smoke, 19 cigarettes, day two, smoke 18 cigarettes, on day three smoke 17 cigarettes. Many people number their cigarettes with a Sharpie fine point marker. Other people smoke half a cigarette, and then save the other half for later on in the day. It doesn’t matter how you negotiate this reduction in cigarette smoking, just reduce it. The outcome is that in twenty days, you will have smoked only 190 cigarettes, instead of 380. And at the end of the twenty days, you will be down to smoking one cigarette for that day.
  3. Detail your car. Just about every person that smokes, smokes in their car. So getting in the car becomes a green light to smoke. Coaches call this green light a trigger. So clean your car inside, wash all of the surfaces, shampoo the carpet, detail every crevice and ashtray so that your car is so clean, you don’t want to dirty it with the ash or the smell of a cigarette. If you are taking a long trip, always smoke outside your car. Make a smoke break to coincide with a rest stop, refueling break or a lunch break. If you have to smoke, pull over to the side of the street or highway and get out of the car to smoke. Do not let anyone else smoke in your car either!
  4. Change the location of where you smoke at home. Do you smoke outside of your home? Make this an uncomfortable experience. I never smoked inside of my home. I smoked on a screened-in porch. My husband and stepdaughter also smoked out there. It was a place where we communicated, worked things out, laughed, and, shared the addiction of smoking. I had to move the smoking lounge to my detached garage. It was a walk of about 50 yards to get there, and in the rain, snow, sleet or darkness it wasn’t very pleasant. I had to walk to the garage, open the garage door, and sit on an inverted five gallon spackle bucket. I needed to make this experience uncomfortable so I wouldn’t really want to go out there.
  5. If you smoke inside your home, remove all ashtrays from the house, remove all lighters, and cigarette from the home, select a new uncomfortable smoking area and place these items in the uncomfortable smoking area.
  6. Discard and collect all butts in one large jar with a lid, add water and smell it before you light up. Keep the jar within eyesight when you smoke. Are you nauseous yet?
  7. Avoid other triggers, like drinking in a bar, or playing a game of poker with other smokers. One huge trigger is that morning cup of coffee . . . short of bringing your butt jar inside and setting it on the kitchen table, try switching to green tea just for the duration of the cessation period, there is more caffeine in green tea than in coffee. While you sip the green tea, read inspirational quotes, or write your thoughts in a diary or journal. When the tea is finished, as is your breakfast and journaling, hike out to the detached garage to smoke your butt. Save the coffee drinking for your non-smoking office.
  8. Find other ways of relaxing. Instead of lighting up, take three extremely deep in-and-out breaths. Taking three breaths is the Buddhist’s way of changing your brain’s thoughts. Pop a stick of gum or Nicorette into your mouth.
  9. Exercise more, start breathing heavy and get your body in shape. If you sit idle there is more chance that you will light up a cigarette. Fill your spare time with sports and vigorous activity. Try to feel how good it is to get your blood circulating and breathing fresh air. If you are not the athletic type, brisk walking will have the same benefit as playing sports.
  10.  If you have to put something in your mouth, drink water. Whenever you get a desire to put a cigarette in your mouth, replace it with something that will help you rather than harm you. Try drinking small amounts of water through a straw, it gives you the same sucking cessation that cigarettes do, which is extremely satisfying. You should drink 4 liters of water per day, a typical bottle of water is 500 ml or 16.9 ounces. You need 8 bottles of water a day. If you need to put something solid in your mouth, then eat a piece of fruit. Please do not try electronic cigarettes. Chew on a stirring straw that you get at the coffee shop, or a tooth pick.
  11. Get support from your friends and family. They want you to give up smoking and be healthier. If they smoke, don’t preach to them about the benefits of not smoking. They will learn from your success. Just don’t allow them to convince you to join them in the smoking garage. Ask everyone to not offer you cigarettes. Ask your family and friends to support your efforts and help you to avoid situations where you may feel obliged to smoke out of social pressure.
  12. Strengthen your will power with spirituality, 12-step programs, yoga and/or meditation. Very few people are born with perfect will-power. Like anything else, practice makes perfect. If you want to strengthen a physical muscle you work out with weights. If you want to strengthen your “mental muscle” you need exercise as well. Spirituality, 12-step programs, yoga and meditation are disciplines that enable complete beginners to build up their capacity to concentrate and firmly accomplish whatever they set out to do. Try it out and see for yourself.

Good luck with your smoking cessation program. Remember if you slip, don’t beat yourself up, get back to the program and learn from the experience. Why did you slip? Plan on avoiding that same situation in the future.

Here are some books that are good for quitting:

The Enlightened Smoker’s Guide to Quitting, by B. Jack Gebhardt

The Smoke Stops Here! by Jim Lacey

You Can Stop Smoking, by Jacquelyn Rogers

Cassius Cheong’s Positively Quit Manual: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Stop Smoking, by Cassius Cheong

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4 Responses to 12 Steps for Quitting Smoking

  1. J.K. McAtee says:

    Great list. I have overcome 30 plus years of tobacco use. Despite all harm reduction efforts and replacement choices, finally my measurement was solely the authenticity of the motivation to cease.
    Overcoming the compulsion is key as well. With the appropriate motivation compulsion takes a back seat. Though not ‘medical’ or scientific in the claim, I can attribute all compulsive habits to this authentic motivation. I feel each element has a spiritual component that overrides all explanations and theories that may come into play otherwise. Help and healing come from powers outside my own. True for me in the event of recovering from cancer, high blood pressure, mood disorders, depression, anxiety, drugs, alcohol, sex, and tobacco.
    Some help came in the form of science, prayer, self discipline, peer support, therapy, experience, but ultimately authentic motivation spawned by a spiritual component.

  2. Charles Knuckles says:

    I know some people hate this truth, but after 32 years of being hopelessly addicted to tobacco products I gave it all to Jesus and in one day just stopped. I have not smoked in 16 years. I finally did not Step 2 right, I came to believe.

    • Melissa Killeen says:

      Awesome, Awesome, Awesome!! I love successful truths!!
      Thanks for your comment!

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