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Smoking: Choosing a Good Time to Quit

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Some unsuccessful attempts to quit smoking result from picking a bad time. If your life is hectic, you may feel there will never be a good time to quit. In that case, pick a time to quit, and do what you can to make your life less stressful or busy than it usually is. Be aware that if you wait for a "perfect" time to quit, you may end up putting off the decision for years.

If you are thinking of quitting today, while you are motivated, that may be best.

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Withdrawal from nicotine, an addictive drug found in tobacco, is characterized by symptoms that include headaches, anxiety, nausea, and cravings for more tobacco. Nicotine creates a chemical dependency so that the body develops a need for a certain level of nicotine at all times. Unless that level is maintained -- by smoking or chewing tobacco -- your body will begin to go through withdrawal. For tobacco users trying to quit, symptoms of withdrawal from nicotine are unpleasant and stressful -- but...

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Anytime that you can focus your energy and attention on your goal of quitting smoking is a good time to quit. Also, certain days may be good choices for your first smoke-free day. Consider quitting:

  • On New Year's Day.
  • On the American Cancer Society's "Great American Smoke-Out" on the Thursday before Thanksgiving. This event is widely publicized, so you will probably see information and support in the media.
  • On your birthday.
  • On a special day that has meaning to a friend or family member who wants you to quit.
  • When you are ill or having a troublesome smoking-related symptom.
  • On the first day of a vacation.
  • When a friend or relative is quitting.

Bad times to quit include:

  • High-stress times.
  • Times when you feel low or depressed.
  • Periods in which you have little contact with friends or family. But if those friends or family members smoke or if you are usually around people who smoke, a good time to quit might be a period of time when you are away from them.
  • Just before a holiday. (Holidays require a lot of energy and may provide more temptations than other times of the year).
  • Right after a serious loss or difficult life change (the death of someone close, a stressful move). But if the life change is seen as progress toward a better future, it might be a good time to quit. For example, immediately following a divorce may be a bad time or a very good time to quit, depending on your attitude toward this life change.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 06, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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