For Tobacco Cessation Month in November we asked our employees what the best tips and tricks were that helped them quit tobacco for good!
“My advice for those trying to quit is don't give up - slipping up doesn't mean failure. Try again.” – VA Employee
Smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing over 480,000 people per year. It hijacks your health, your response to stress, your finances, and your freedom. Those that have successfully quit understand the true weight of the struggle, as well as how hopeless one can feel when they contemplate quitting. Just know that are resources, strategies, and PEOPLE that are here to help and want to see you succeed! Check out these great insights from Marion VA employees that have been in your shoes.
“Time is the wisest counselor of all.” – Pericles.
- “Slowly increase the amount of time between each cigarette, thereby gradually reducing your daily use.”
- “I picked a date that I wanted to quit by. I slowly decreased my number smoked per day until I was at zero on that chosen date. If you're real old school, use a farmer's almanac to find the "best days to quit." That's how I picked my date.”
Social influence & relationships
- “Don't change your routine or avoid being around others who smoke. That made a huge difference for me because I didn't have to ‘re-quit’ smoking every time I was around smokers.”
- "I had to take time away from family and friends that smoked for the first month.”
- “I reached out to my family, in-person, or by phone, when the cravings hit. Also, my work friends were amazing!”
- “I had a phone friend who would encourage me!”
Modification of environment & helpful tools
- “I had to temporally stop certain activities that I had paired/associated with smoking in order to avoid the craving. This included things such as drinking coffee, campfires, practicing bushcraft, and various other activities.”
- “For activities I could not stop, such as driving, I used replacement behaviors. I chewed on plastic straws or fiddled with something in my hands. I would avoid using candy or food as a replacement behavior in order to avoid the weight gain.”
- “To combat triggers, I made sure to always have cold water near me to drink when I felt the urge to light up. I also cut straws in half and chewed on them when needed. Sugar-free hard candy and sugar-free gum also helped with cravings.”
- “Download a tracker on your phone that reminds you how much money you're saving and how your health is improving over time.”
- “I did not use medications and just stopped ‘cold turkey.’” Do what works best for you.
- “I got a hobby to help me when I quit. I would cross stitch to refocus my mind and not think about smoking.”
Freedom & opportunity
- “I tried to focus on all of the benefits of not smoking like not going out in the cold to smoke, not smelling like an ashtray, not subjecting others to secondhand smoke, and being in the new ‘nonsmokers club’.”
- “I was unaware of how I smelled to other people when I smoked. After quitting, someone will walk by you, and you will know they smoke.”
- “I didn't tell anyone I was quitting, which took the pressure off.”
The breath of life
- “Once I got the ability to take a full breath, when I'd want a cigarette I'd take a nice deep breath that I wasn't able to take before when I was still smoking.”
- “I would walk away from my children and deep breathe whenever I needed to [avoid tobacco]. I used deep breathing all the way through. I still do to this day. That was 1997.”
The power of persistence & decisional balance
- “Keep trying! Rome wasn't built in a day, and it may take more than one attempt to quit, if you smoke once, you can still start with the same plan to quit smoking!
- “When things become difficult, focus on the reason(s) you have stopped smoking instead of the desire to smoke."
- “It took me 6 tries to be able to quit. I was so over smoking and wanted it very badly. I used Romans 12:1 and repeated that to myself frequently.”
- I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. - Romans 12:1
- “I attempted quitting smoking several times. I was not motivated to quit. I kept telling myself that I would quit when smoking when it got in the way with my health. Well, I had a heart attack (called a widow maker), got stents placed then cardiac rehab etc. While in cardiac ICU, I suddenly became motivated. I wore the patch for one day then threw it away. I had cravings after but they became farther and farther apart.”
A heartfelt thank you to all the VA employees who generously shared their wisdom. You're making a positive impact on countless lives!
Together, we can light up hope and pave the way for a healthier future!
“Good luck on your quitting journey and you can do this!!!!!!” – VA Employee
If you want to see what other resources available through VA, visit: https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/quit-tobacco/