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Most people who smoke began as teens. If you smoke and are ready to quit, be warned that it's not easy; some people try many times before they succeed. Research has shown that following these steps can help you:
1. Get ready to quit by picking a date to stop smoking. Before that day, get rid of all cigarettes, ashtrays, and lighters in your room or apartment and car. Write down why you want to quit and keep this list as a handy reminder.
2. Ask your friends and relatives for support and encouragement. Let them know the date you'll be quitting and ask them not to smoke or leave cigarettes out around you.
3. Learn new skills and do things differently. When you get the urge to smoke, try to do something different: Talk to a friend, go for a walk, or do something you enjoy, such as gardening or going to the movies. Exercise, meditate, take a hot bath, or read to reduce your stress. Plan ahead for how to deal with situations that will make you want to smoke. Keep gum or candy handy to help handle your cravings, and drink lots of water.
4. Get medication and use it correctly. For example, nicotine gum and patches are available over the counter to help you quit and lessen the urge to smoke. Prescription medications include bupropion SR (an antidepressant), nicotine nasal spray, nicotine inhalers, and nicotine patches. Talk with your health care provider about these options and discuss which one might work best for you.
5. Be prepared for relapse. Most people relapse and start smoking again within 3 months after they quit. Don't get discouraged if this happens to you; you may need to make several tries before conquering this addiction. But you know that it's worth the effort, so ask your health care provider for help, such as referrals to self-help groups, if you need it.
How to quit smoking, at The National Women's Health Information Center, http://www.4woman.gov/QuitSmoking/howtoquit.cfm.
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