Tapering off might seem easier at first. It works for some people. But with cigarettes, matches and ashtrays around, you might be tempted to go back to your old ways during periods of difficulty or stress.
On the other hand, cold turkey can be too difficult for some people.
Think carefully about the method that is best for you. In either case, you need to pay attention to what you're doing. Quitting is rarely automatic.
Before starting the gum, you stop cold turkey -- no cigarettes at all. Your physical addiction to the nicotine is only part of the cigarette habit. So with the nicotine gum, you are free to work on the psychological and emotional sides to your habit without the unpleasant physical effects of nicotine withdrawal. The gum also may work as an appetite suppressant, to prevent weight gain during the first critical days of your quitting program. Later, when you're in better shape, you'll taper off.
First, many of these cigarettes are falsely labeled. Tar and nicotine counting methods are unreliable at best.
Second, smokers who crave nicotine, when they switch to low tar and nicotine brands soon begin to smoke more to get that nicotine. Guess what? The tobacco companies sell more cigarettes.
You can't win with the low tar and nicotine scam, no matter how attractive and healthy the people in the advertisements are, and even though they're not cowboys. You know better than to fall for it.
If you're tapering off, keep the above items out of sight. Take what's needed out when you smoke, then put it back after you finish each cigarette.
Also, refuse to patronize sports and entertainment events sponsored by tobacco companies; these are hidden ways they advertise.
Advertising is a sophisticated industry, and you cannot take cigarette advertising lightly. By keeping your mind consciously tuned to the advertising, you can fight it, and see it for the ridiculous and dangerous thing that it is. If you don't consciously do this, the advertising gets through your defenses and into your subconscious mind where it can hurt you and make you do things you really don't want to do.
---Actually make a schedule as to how many cigarettes you will smoke in a day, and when and where you will smoke them. Write it down, photocopy it, and check off the smoking occasions. If you feel like smoking between occasions, wait until the proper time comes. Be realistic in setting your schedule.
---Don't smoke in comfortable situations, like in bed or while you watch TV. Have the cigarette, but smoke it standing up, outdoors, in the winter cold or summer heat.
---Even if you don't hide your cigarettes, don't keep them too handy. Make sure that you will need to get up and at least go to a drawer for your cigarettes, matches, lighter or ashtray, instead of having them in your pocket or purse. This technique helps you recognize and eliminate some of your automatic "reach for a cigarette" responses.
---Buy cigarettes by the pack, so that each time you need a pack you have to go out to buy it. This helps cut the automatic response pattern.
---Change to a brand of cigarettes you really don't like very much.
---Put your cigarettes out sooner. If you wish, draw a line past which you will put the cigarette out rather than continue smoking it.
---When you feel like smoking, stop and think. Do you really want a cigarette? Couldn't you wait until after you've made that call (without smoking through it) or done a certain (smoke free) chore? Get into the habit of short-circuiting that automatic response and inserting time intervals between the desire for the cigarette and the time you actually smoke it. Keep stretching this period and getting better at going longer without cigarettes. You might still smoke, but you'll be freeing yourself of some bad automatic behavior patterns.
Ask some of your non-smoking friends or relatives to make a video or audio tape of how they feel about your smoking habit. Ask them to be frank and honest about how disgusting and offensive your smoking is to them, and then add in how worried they are about your health. They can say how they feel into a tape recorder for you to play right before you go to bed.
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