Ready, Aim, Quit!

People who quit smoking or chewing tobacco often find that they have to work up to it slowly. It’s important to quit at a time when you feel prepared to be successful.

To prepare yourself, consider these ways to quit smoking and chewing:

If you made a list of reasons for quitting in Step 1: Thinking About Quitting, pull it out now—you’ll be adding to it.

Know Your Triggers

You can double your chances for success by avoiding triggers that make you want to use tobacco. Think about and write down your triggers as part of your quit plan.

Your triggers may include:

  • Drinking your morning coffee
  • Driving to work
  • Having a drink at a bar or restaurant
  • Hanging out with friends who smoke or chew
  • Being at a party 
  • Dealing with stressful situations at home or at work 
  • Watching TV 
  • Relaxing after a meal   

You also may want to list certain emotions that give you the urge to smoke or chew—anger, boredom, loneliness, stress, and fatigue are some examples.

Think about and write down strategies for dealing with each trigger. For example, have a friend you can call when you’re stressed and have a cigarette craving. Sit in the nonsmoking section of restaurants so that you won’t feel tempted by people smoking around you. Carry gum or toothpicks with you all the time so you have something to chew on besides smokeless tobacco.

Set a Quit Date

Choose a quit date within the next 30 days. That way, you won’t have much time to change your mind, but you’ll have time to prepare your quit plan. Some people select a date that has meaning for them: a birthday, the anniversary of the day you joined the service. Some people avoid choosing their own birthday because they want to declare their quit date a second birthday.

Other suggestions are:

  • World No Tobacco Day (May 31)
  • The Great American Smokeout (the third Thursday of November)
  • The Fourth of July (your Independence Day)

If you smoke at work, quit on the weekend or during a day off. That way, you’ll already be tobacco free when you return. Or you might want to plan to quit before or after a home leave.

Write down your quit date as part of your quit plan.

Tell Others You Plan to Quit

Quitting smoking or chewing tobacco is easier with the support of others. Tell your family, friends and the people in your unit that you plan to quit, and ask them if they’ll help you out. Some people like to have others ask how things are going, but others find it nosy. So, tell the people you care about exactly how they can help.

Here are some ideas:

  • Deal with your mood swings: Ask everyone to understand your change in mood. Remind them that this won’t last long. (The worst will be over within 2 weeks.) Remember: The longer you go without smoking or chewing tobacco, the sooner you’ll be your old self again.
  • Get a quitting buddy: Just like when you work out, having a quit buddy can help to keep you on track and not 'skip' a day. You're a competitive person, right? Would you want to be the one who gives in and uses tobacco first? Find a quit buddy to help motivate and push you. 
  • Recruit others: Get support from other people. You can find a local stop smoking programs and support groups, call a smoking/chewing quitline, or talk in an Internet chat room.

As part of your quit plan, write down the names and contact information for the people in your support team. Also write down any “quit smoking” hotline numbers or URLs for chat rooms that you will use for support.

Don't Use Other Forms of Tobacco — They Have More Tar, Nicotine and Deadly Gases 

After you've quit, do not use tobacco products of any kind. (This is a no-brainer, right?) 

Get rid of things that remind you of smoking or chewing tobacco: your snuff tins, cigarettes, matches, lighters and ashtrays. Don’t save even one pack of cigarettes or tin of snuff. That just makes it easier to start again.

Here are some other ideas:

  • Clean and freshen up your things at work and at home, including your drapes and clothes. Shampoo your car or truck upholstery and clean out the ashtray. Afterwards, tape the ashtray shut and tape a sign over it to inspire you. You might write: “I survived basic training! I can do this!” or “I’m quitting smoking for____,” and fill in the name of a special person in your life.
  • Have your dentist clean your teeth to get rid of tobacco stains. See how great your teeth look? Now keep them that way.
  • Plan a “funeral” for your tobacco stuff. Gather up friends and loved ones to watch you flush your last few cigarettes down the toilet or burn your tobacco stuff in a barrel. You could even get your base bugler to play “taps.”

Think About Using Medicines That Can Help You Quit Smoking or Chewing 

Quitting smoking or chewing may make you feel strange at first. For a few weeks, you may feel dull, tense or moody. These are signs of nicotine withdrawal. That means that your body is getting used to life without nicotine.

Most people have a hard time handling nicotine withdrawal. Investigate the medicines like the patch, Zyban and CHANTIX that can take the edge off those feelings.