Avoid smoking triggers

Recognize places and situations that make you want to smoke and avoid them. Instead, visit places where smoking isn't allowed, such as a museum or movie theater. Hang out with people who don't smoke or who also want to quit smoking. At work, use the main door instead of the smoking entrance.

Keep especially busy during times when boredom may tempt you to smoke. Make it inconvenient to smoke by leaving your cigarettes and lighters in the car when you're at home or work. Also, replace old behaviors with new routines that aren't associated with smoking. Chew gum while you drive, or take a new route to work to keep your interest in your environment and away from smoking. Get up from the table immediately after eating. Drink water or tea instead of coffee or alcohol. Practice saying, "No thanks, I don't smoke."

Try a stop-smoking product

Don't use withdrawal symptoms or cravings as an excuse to not quit smoking. Plenty of stop-smoking medications with Food and Drug Administration approval are available to help you manage. Some types of nicotine replacement therapy — including patches, gum and lozenges — are available over-the-counter. Nicotine nasal spray and the nicotine inhaler are available by prescription. Other prescription medications may also be options: Bupropion (Zyban) can help control nicotine cravings; varenicline (Chantix) can reduce both the pleasurable effects of smoking and lessen nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

You may be able to use a combination of stop-smoking medications at the same time. Using stop-smoking medications along with counseling to achieve changes in your behavior and beliefs is the most effective way to quit smoking. Talk to your health care provider about what stop-smoking medications may be right for you.

Manage your stress

Stress and anxiety can increase your urge to smoke and derail your effort to quit smoking. To keep stress and anxiety under control, prioritize your tasks. Consider what tasks you can eliminate or delegate to someone else. Take a break when you need it. Practice relaxation exercises, such as physical activity, deep breathing or meditation. Stretch or simply listen to your favorite music.

Take it one day at a time

Don't worry about next week or next month. Focus on what you can do today to quit smoking. Every hour without a cigarette can bring you one step closer to quitting for good — and freedom from an unhealthy, expensive habit.

Celebrate your successes

Made it through the day without a cigarette? Treat yourself to something special. Made it through the week? Count how much you've saved by not buying cigarettes. Use the savings for a special treat or invest the money for the future. Reward yourself for not smoking by doing something you enjoy every day, such as spending extra time with your children or grandchildren, going to a ball game, taking a walk, soaking in the tub or watching a movie. All of your small successes can help you reach your goal to quit smoking for good.

May 16, 2014 See more In-depth