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Great American Smokeout Quit Smoking Tips

John R. Polito

The Great American Smokeout - WhyQuit's cold turkey quit smoking tipsReady to take back your mind, health and life? The Great American Smokeout is a great excuse to come home! Sadly, the Great American Smokeout has been hijacked by pharmaceutical interests. Originally a day to quit smoking nicotine, it has been transformed into a day to use "replacement" nicotine, or new nicotine designer drugs that imitate it. The following cold turkey quitting tips recapture the glory of the very first Smokeout, of ending use of the chemical that has kept you enslaved. .

Watching Pfizer's new tortoise and hare Chantix commericals, you'd think cold turkey quitters never succeed. But according to the American Cancer Society, 91% of America's 46 million ex-smokers quit entirely on their own: more than 41 million strong. Truth is that the hare isn't a turkey but placebo. Truth is that placebo isn't even a real quitting method. Will Pfizer ever allow Chantix to go head-to-head with real cold turkey quitters? I doubt it.

The below quit smoking tips are a sampling of the cold turkey quitting lessons available at WhyQuit, a totally free, all-volunteer, non-commerical quit smoking site that sells nothing and actually declines donations. Since mid-2000 WhyQuit has been the Internet's most popular abrupt nicotine cessation destination.

1. Law of Addiction - The law of addiction states, "administration of a drug to an addict will cause re-establishment of chemical dependence upon the addictive substance." Yes, just one powerful puff and we again must face enduring up to 72 hours of nicotine detox. We're not that strong. Adherence to a simple four word restatement of the law of addiction guarantees success to all. No nicotine just one day at a time ..."Never Take Another Puff."
2. Be Honest With Yourself - Nicotine dependency is every bit as real and permanent as alcoholism. Don't play games with yourself. Treating a true addiction as though some nasty little habit is a recipe for relapse. There is no such thing as just one puff. It truly is an all or nothing proposition.
3. Enhancing Motivation - Are you having trouble getting started? Is your motivation in need of a boost? It doesn't take strength or willpower to quit but dreams and desires that are kept properly fueled. Visit WhyQuit.com and meet Bryan, Noni, Brandon, Kim or Sean, or watch one of eighteen short desire fueling movie clips. If you don't have Internet access visit your local library.
4. Education is Power - Yes, quitting cold in ignorance and darkness can be frightening. But an abundance of knowledge and understanding can easily destroy ignorance, darkness and fright. Imagine reading the best quit smoking book ever written and for free. Imagine watching 64 video quitting lessons and doing so in your own home. Imagine reading messages at a 5,000 member online support group, where each and every message has intense focus on a single issue, freedom from nicotine. Visit WhyQuit and experience the beauty of educating your natural instinct to stop using nicotine.
5. Measuring Victory - Forget about quitting "forever." Like attempting the seemingly impossible task of eating an entire cow, it's the biggest psychological bite imaginable. Instead, like eating a single nice juicy steak, work hard at adopting a more manageable "one day at a time" quitting philosophy for measuring victory. If we insist on seeing success only in terms of quitting forever then on which day will we celebrate? Why not celebrate each and every challenge overcome, each hour of freedom and each day of healing.
6. Recovery Phases - When quitting, the amount of nicotine remaining in our bloodstream is cut by half every two hours. Within 72 hours all nicotine and 90% of the chemicals it breaks down into will have passed from our body. Physical withdrawal peaks by day three and is substantially complete within two weeks. Subconscious cigarette use cue reconditioning normally peaks during the first week and all but our remote, infrequent or seasonal cues will be reconditioned within a month. Conscious thoughts of wanting to smoke will gradually grow fewer, shorter in duration and generally less intense with each passing day. Within a few months they'll become the exception not the rule, as we gradually start to develop an expectation of going entire days without wanting to smoke nicotine.
7. Withdrawal Symptoms - Within reason it's fairly safe to blame most of what we'll feel during the first three days on quitting. But after that we need to listen to our body and if concerned give our doctor a call. Don't blame symptoms on where you're going but on where you've been. See each symptom as a true sign of healing it reflects.
8. Possible Hidden Conditions - Each puff of smoke contained more than 500 different gases and 3,500 different particles. One or more of these 4,000 chemicals may have been masking an underlying hidden health problem such as a thyroid condition (iodine), breathing problems including asthma (bronchiodilators), or even chronic organic depression (nicotine). Cigarette chemicals may also have been interacting with medications you were taking and an adjustment may be necessary. Stay alert and if at all concerned immediately contact your physician or pharmacist.
9. Emotional Phases - Chemical dependency upon smoking nicotine is one of the most intense, repetitive and dependable relationships we've ever known. It infected almost every aspect of our life. Be prepared to experience a normal sense of emotional loss during recovery. Expect to travel through and experience six different emotional phases: (1) denial, (2) anger, (3) bargaining, (4) depression, (5) acceptance, and (6) complacency.
10. Record Core Motivations - Once in the heat of battle, it is normal for our mind to quickly forget many of the reasons that motivated us to quit smoking. Write yourself a loving reminder letter, carry it with you, and read it often. Make it your first line of defense - a motivational tool that you can pull out during moments of challenge. As with achievement in almost all human endeavors, the wind beneath your recovery wings will not be strength or willpower but robust dreams and desires. Keep those dreams vibrant and on center-stage and no circumstance will deprive you of glory.
11. Do Not Skip Meals - Each puff of nicotine was our spoon, releasing stored fats into our bloodstream. It allowed us to skip meals without experiencing wild blood-sugar swing symptoms such as an inability to concentrate or hunger related anxieties. Learn to again properly fuel your body by spreading out your normal daily calorie intake more evenly. It is important not to skip meals during early recovery.
12. Three Days of Natural Juices - Unless contrary to your health conditions or diet, drink plenty of acidic natural fruit juice the first three days. Cranberry is excellent and a bottle will cost about the same as a pack of cigarettes. The acidic juices will not only aid in causing your kidneys to more quickly eliminate nicotine from your bloodstream, it will help stabilize blood sugars. Do not use extra juices beyond three days as they tend to be rather fattening.
13. Weight Gain - You'd need to gain at least 75 extra pounds in order to equal the health risks associated with smoking one pack-a-day. Eat vegetables and fruits instead of candies, chips and pastries to help avoid weight gain. Engage in some form of moderate daily exercise if at all concerned about weight gain. Keep in mind that you can expect a substantial increase in overall lung function within 90 days. Then, it will aid in engaging in extended periods of physical activity, in shedding any extra pounds and building cardiovascular endurance.
14. Anger/Stress Related Anxieties - Recognize that contrary to popular thinking, smoking nicotine did not relieve stress but only its own absence. Nicotine is an alkaloid. Stress is an acid-producing event capable of quickly neutralizing the body's nicotine reserves. As smokers, we added early withdrawal to every stressful event. Upon arriving here on Easy Street you will discover an amazing sense of calm during crisis.
15. Quitting for Others - You cannot quit for others. It must be our gift to us. Quitting for a child, spouse, parent or friend creates a natural sense of deprivation that will ultimately result in relapse. If quitting for another, how will an addict's junkie-mind respond the first time they disappoint us?
16. Attitude - A positive can-do attitude is important. We are what we think. Take pride in each hour of healing and freedom, each challenge overcome, and each aspect of life reclaimed. Celebrate the full and complete victory each reflects. The next few minutes are all that matter and each is entirely do-able. Yes you can!
17. Patience - Years of smoking nicotine conditioned us to be extremely impatient, at least when it comes to our addiction. A deprived nicotine addict could inhale a puff of nicotine and have it arrive and release dopamine in their brain within 10 seconds. Realize the importance of patience to successful recovery. Baby steps, just one hour, challenge and day at a time and then celebrate the new found patience you just demonstrated.
18. Keeping Cigarettes - Get rid of all cigarettes, cigars and old replacement nicotine products. Keeping a stash of nicotine handy makes as much sense as someone on suicide watch keeping a loaded gun handy just to prove they can. Toying with a 50% chance of depriving ourselves of 5,000 sunrises isn't a game. Fully commit to going the distance and seeing what it's like to awaken to new expectations of a nicotine free life.
19. Caffeine/Nicotine Interaction - Amazingly, nicotine somehow doubles the rate by which the body depletes caffeine. Studies have found that our blood-caffeine level will rise to 203% of our normal baseline if no intake reduction is made when quitting. Although not a problem for most light to moderate caffeine users, consider a caffeine intake reduction if troubled by anxieties or if experiencing difficulty relaxing or sleeping (also see Sleep Adjustments).
20. Subconscious Smoking Triggers - You have conditioned your subconscious mind to expect nicotine when encountering certain locations, times, events, people or emotions. Be prepared for each cigarette use cue to trigger a brief crave episode. Encountering a use cue cannot trigger relapse unless we take a puff. Take heart, most triggers are reconditioned and extinguished by a single encounter during which the subconscious mind fails to receive the expected result - nicotine. Yes, each crave episode is good not bad as there is a reward at the end, the return of another slice of life.
21. Crave Episodes Less than Three Minutes - In contrast to conscious thought fixation (the "nice juicy steak" type thinking that can last as long as we have the ability to maintain our focus), no subconsciously triggered crave episode will last longer than three minutes.
22. Time Distortion Symptom - A recent study found that nicotine cessation causes serious time distortion. Although no crave episode will last longer than three minutes, to a quitter the minutes can feel like hours. Keep a clock handy to maintain honest perspective.
crave episode chart23. Crave Episode Frequency - The "average" number of crave episodes (each less than three minutes) experienced by the "average" quitter on their most challenging day of recovery is six episodes on day three. That's a total of 18 minutes of challenge on your most challenging day. But what if you're not average? What if you established and must encounter twice as many nicotine-feeding cues as the average quitter? That's 36 minutes of significant challenge. Can you handle 36 minutes of serious anxiety in order to reclaim your mind, health and as much life expectancy as possible? Absolutely! We all can. Be prepared for a small spike in crave episodes on day seven as you celebrate your first full week of freedom from nicotine. Yes, for most of us smoking was part of every celebration. Also stay alert for subtle differences between crave triggers. For example, the Sunday newspaper is much thicker and may have required three cigarettes to read instead of just one.
24. Understanding the Big Crave - The average quitter will be experiencing just 1.4 crave episodes per day by day ten. After that you'll soon begin to experience entire days without encountering a single un-reconditioned subconscious crave trigger. If a later crave episode ever feels far more intense it's likely that it has been some time since your last significant challenge and you've dropped your guard and defenses a bit. It can feel as though you've been sucker punched. If one does occur, see the distance between challenges as the wonderful sign of healing the incident reflects. Yes, bigger is better!
25. Crave Coping Techniques - One coping method is to practice slow deep breathing when experiencing a crave episode. Try briefly clearing your mind of all needless chatter by focusing on your favorite person, place or thing. Another popular three minute crave coping exercise is to say your ABCs while associating each letter with your favorite food, person or place. For example, the letter "A" is for grandma's hot apple pie. "B" is for warm buttered biscuits. I think you'll find that you'll never make it to the challenging letter Q.
26. Embracing A Crave - Another coping technique is to mentally reach out and embrace the crave. A crave cannot cut you, burn you, kill you, or make you bleed. Try being brave just once. In your mind, wrap your arms around the crave's anxiety energy and then sense as it slowly fizzles and dies while in your embrace. Yes, another trigger bites the dust and victory is once again yours!
33. Confront Your Crave Triggers - Recognize the fact that everything you did as a smoker you are about to learn to again comfortably do as an ex-smoker. Meet, greet and defeat use cues and triggers. Don't hide from them. You need not give up anything when quitting except nicotine and everything you did while under the influence of nicotine you'll soon learn to do as well or better as an ex-smoker.
27. Alcohol Use - Alcohol is associated with half of all smoking relapses. Be extremely careful with early alcohol use during the first couple of weeks. Using an inhibition diminishing substance and then intentionally surrounding ourself with smokers while still engaged in early withdrawal is a recipe for relapse. We need to get our quitting feet under us first. If you do use alcohol, once ready to extinguish related cigarette use cues consider breaking the challenge down into manageable segments. Try drinking at home first without smokers around, go out with smokers but refrain from drinking, or consider spacing your drinks further apart, or drinking water or juice between drinks. Have an escape plan and a backup, and be fully prepared to use them both. Study evidence recommends that if you are chemically dependent upon alcohol that your greatest odds of success will be in breaking free from both smoking and alcohol at the same time.
28. Support - Ongoing motivational support will significantly enhance your recovery outlook but don't expect family or friends who have never been chemically dependent themselves to have any appreciation of your challenges or the time required to achieve substantial comfort. It simply isn't fair to them or you. Find an ex-smoker and ask them if they'd mind being your mentor for the next 90 days or go online and Google "Quit Smoking Support Groups" or visit our group "Freedom" at WhyQuit.
29. No Legitimate Excuse for Relapse - Recognize that smoking nicotine cannot solve any crisis. Fully accept the fact that there is absolutely no legitimate excuse for relapse, including an auto accident, financial crisis, the end of a relationship, job loss, a terrorist attack, a hurricane, the birth of a baby, or the eventual inevitable death of those we love most. Picture yourself not smoking through each and every step needed to overcome the most difficult challenge your mind can possibly imagine.
30. Conscious Thought Fixation - Unlike a less than three-minute subconscious crave episode, we can consciously fixate on any thought of wanting to smoke for as long as we're able to maintain our concentration. Don't try to run or hide from thoughts of wanting but instead place the thought under honest light. Flavor? Are there any taste buds inside your lungs? Just one puff? For us nicotine addicts, one is too many and a thousand never enough. Treat nicotine dependency recovery as if it were no different than alcoholism. Don't debate with yourself about wanting "a" cigarette. Instead, ask yourself how you'd feel about going back to your old level of consumption or greater.
31. Reward Yourself - Consider putting aside the money that you would have spent buying cigarettes and treat yourself to something you really want after a week or a month. Save for a year and go on a vacation. Even if unable to save, reward yourself by quickly climbing from that deep smoker's rut and spending time in places where you couldn't smoke, such as movies, libraries and no smoking sections of restaurants, by engaging in activities lasting longer than an hour, and by ever so slightly pushing your normal limits of physical endurance in order to sample the amazing healing within.
32. Fully Commit To Going the Distance - Don't be afraid to tell people around you that you have quit smoking. Fully commit to your recovery while taking pride in each and every hour and day of healing and freedom from nicotine, and each challenge overcome. Shed your fears of success.
33. Avoid All Crutches - A crutch is any form of quitting reliance that you lean upon so heavily in supporting your quit (yes, a noun) that if quickly removed would likely result in relapse. Do not lean heavily upon a quitting buddy who quits at the same time as you, as their odds of successfully quitting for one year are relatively small. Instead ask an ex-smoker or never-smoker for support, or visit a free online support forum such as WhyQuit.com's Freedom from Tobacco.
34. The Smoking Dream - Be prepared for an extremely vivid smoking dream as tobacco odors released by horizontal healing lungs are swept up bronchial tubes by rapidly healing cilia and come in contact with a vastly enhanced sense of smell. See it as the wonderful sign of healing it reflects and nothing more. It has no profound meaning beyond healing.
35. See Marketing as Bait - Your quitting means thousands of dollars in lost profits to the tobacco industry. They do not want to lose you. See store tobacco advertising and the hundreds of neatly aligned packs and cartons for what they truly reflect - bait. Behind the pretty colored boxes and among more than 600 flavor additives is hidden what many dependency experts now consider earth's most captivating chemical.
36. It's Never Too Late - Regardless of how long you've smoked, how old you are, or how badly you've damaged your body, it's never too late to arrest your dependency, become its master, and commence the most intense period of healing that your mind and body have likely ever known.
37. Study Smokers Closely - They are not smoking nicotine to tease you. They do so because they must, in order to replenish a constantly falling blood-serum nicotine level that declines by one-half every two hours . Most nicotine is smoked while on autopilot. What cue triggered the public feeding you're now witnessing? Watch acid-producing events such as stress or alcohol quickly neutralize their body's nicotine reserves. Witness their endless mandatory cycle of replenishment.
38. Thinking vs. Wanting - There is a major distinction between thinking about smoking and wanting to smoke. Don't confuse the two. After years of smoking you should expect to notice (especially in movies) and smell smokers but it doesn't necessarily mean that you want to smoke. As for thoughts of wanting, with each passing day they'll gradually grow shorter in duration, generally less intense and a bit further apart. Eventually they'll grow so infrequent that when one arrives it will bring a smile to your face as it will be your only remaining reminder of the amazing journey you once made.
39. Non-Smoker or Ex-Smoker - What should you call yourself? Although it's normal to want to be a non-smoker there is a major distinction between a never-smoker and an ex-smoker. Only the ex-smoker can grow complacent, use nicotine and relapse.
40. Complacency - Don't allow complacency to destroy your healing and glory. The ingredients for relapse are a failing memory of why we quit and of the early challenges, rewriting the law of addiction to exempt or exclude ourselves, and an excuse such as stress, celebration, illness, finances, war, death, or even a cigar at the birth of a baby.
41. Relapse Prevention - Remember that there are only two good reasons to take a puff once you quit. You decide you want to go back to your old level of consumption until smoking cripples and then kills you, or, you decide you really enjoy withdrawal and you want to make it last forever. As long as neither of these options appeals to you - no nicotine just one day at a time ... Never Take Another Puff!

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Written 11/20/08.
Reformatted 08/25/18 by John R. Polito