1. Gear Up to Quit Smoking

If you haven't already, throw away all your lighters, ashtrays and cigarette packs! ALL of them, including the ones you've hidden in your drawer for 'emergency' purposes.

Make it known to everybody that you are quitting smoking - your friends, colleagues, bosses, family members and even your neighbours. If you are afraid to tell because you think you will not succeed in quitting, think of it from another perspective - making your quit attempt known to everyone will prevent you from failing!

List your quit buddies and form support groups. Include smoking buddies who are also thinking of quitting, and non-smoking friends who will support you. Save their numbers in your handphone and message or call them whenever you have the urge to smoke.

Put up 'No Smoking' signs in visible areas (on your desktop, inside your wardrobe, in the washroom) to remind yourself of your new resolution. Constant visual reminders are powerful and can give you encouragement when your mind is wandering on other topics.

Know what you are getting into. You may experience withdrawal symptoms and you'll almost certainly go through urges that are difficult to control. Understand what causes these cravings and withdrawal symptoms and have a plan ready for what you will do when this happens.

2. Use the 4 Ds to Overcome Urges to Smoke

Distract yourself by doing something else
Prepare a 'Rescue Kit" to distract you from cravings. Some items you can put in your kit includes sugar-free sweets, MP3 player and handheld games to keep your mind distracted.

Delay lighting up
Every time you feel the urge to light up, pop a sugar-free mint into your mouth or drink water to delay the urge. The cravings and withdrawal symptoms will pass whether you smoke or not!

Do deep breathing exercises to help you relax
Concentrating on your body and your breathing is an effective way to get over cravings.

Drink a glass of water or milk slowly
Keeping your hands and mouth busy is often all you need to do to get over an urge to smoke.

3. Manage Your Nicotine Cravings

Nicotine in cigarettes is a powerful drug and can be as addictive as heroin and cocaine. However, not everyone will experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Approximately 20% of smokers will experience strong withdrawal symptoms. But they often disappear after the first two to three weeks when the feeling of well-being starts to kick in. Withdrawal symptoms are usually worse in the first 48 hours and they are normal signs that your body is recovering from the harmful effects of smoking. Use the tips in this article to manage your cravings and stay smoke-free.

Coping with Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms

If you suffer from withdrawal symptoms, try these to help make them more manageable:

Difficulty concentrating Take regular stretch breaks to re-energise your body. To think better, try sniffing peppermint oil or drink peppermint tea instead.
Feeling irritable Relaxation exercises like yoga, meditation and deep breathing help to calm the mind. If you've got time, catch a feel-good movie or comedy.
Having headaches Get enough sleep. Stay in quiet, relaxed surroundings. A head-and-shoulder massage can ease the pain.
Feeling tired Get enough sleep and increase your physical activity. Drink ginger tea to perk yourself up.
Coughing Sip warm water. Suck on sugar-free cough drops.
Hunger or thirst in between meals Drink lots of plain water or unsweetened fresh juices. Satisfy your hunger with low-calorie snacks.

Determine Your Level of Nicotine Dependence

Take this test to find out your level of nicotine dependence:

For each statement, circle the most appropriate number.

1. How many cigarettes do you smoke per day?
a) 10 or less (0) 
b) 11 - 20 (1) 
c) 21 - 30 (2) 
d) 31 or more (3) 
2. How soon after you wake up do you smoke your first cigarette?
a) 0 - 5 min (3) 
b) 6 - 30 min (2) 
c) 31 - 60 min (1) 
d) After 60 min (0) 
3. Do you find it difficult to refrain from smoking in places where smoking is not allowed (e.g. hospitals, government offices, cinemas and libraries)?
a) Yes (1) 
b) No (0) 
4. Do you smoke more during the first hours after waking than during the rest of the day?
a) Yes (1) 
b) No (0) 
5. Which cigarette would you be the most unwilling to give up?
a) First in the morning (1) 
b) Any of the others (0) 
6. Do you smoke even when you are very ill?
a) Yes (1) 
b) No (0) 
0 - 3 points Low
4 - 6 points Medium
7 - 10 points High

Total Point(s): _______

Consider Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) to relieve withdrawal symptoms. There are different types of NRT available: nicotine patch and nicotine gum to name a few. Ask your pharmacist or doctor for more information. No prescription is required.

4. Re-Program Your Mind to Strengthen Your Resolve

Build a strong mind to keep your motivation strong!

Over the years, you've learnt to use smoking as a coping mechanism to deal with your daily stresses. You now have to re-program your mind to use other coping mechanisms instead.

Think positive - Visualise yourself as someone who has overcome quitting and reaping the health benefits of being smoke-free. Being able to picture yourself as someone you want to become helps to shape your attitude towards achieving it. Smile and use positive words in your inner thoughts or when talking to others. You'll be surprised how contagious positive attitudes can be. When you are positive and feel good, people naturally like to be with you and that reinforces your positive thinking.

Find a listening ear - You don't have to quit alone. Find support and encouragement from friends, family or a loved one. Join a smoking cessation programme to confide in a professional advisor when you feel your resolve slipping. Share with them your problems and feelings and make a connection with others. By doing that, you'll lighten your emotional load and give you more comfort and support in your quit attempt.

Keep yourself distracted - Always thought about picking up a new language or a new hobby? Now's the time to do so. Sign up for class, learn a new instrument (drums might be good for relieving stress) or start playing some computer games to keep your mind off smoking.

Get Moving! - Engaging in physical activity releases endorphins in your body, giving you a natural feeling of well-being. If you have no time for a proper game or a swim, try integrating some simple exercises such as climbing the stairs or brisk walking to the train station.

Find other ways to relieve stress - Relax with yoga or get your body grooving to a new dance! You can also try deep breathing exercises and muscle relaxation methods for quick results. If your schedule allows, you might want to go for a short weekend getaway to refresh your mind and soul.

Be strong and be positive. Tell yourself you can do it! Quitting smoking may be a challenge, but positive thinking will help you achieve success.

5. Change Your Habits to Quit Smoking for Good

Old habits die hard. So find new habits to replace them!

Smoking may have become part of your daily routine and you automatically reach for cigarettes at certain places, certain times or even around certain people. The key to changing your habits is to replace old habits with new ones. Read the tips (below - under "Change your habits") to help change your habits.

Got a daily routine? Change it!
Try introducing some changes in your daily routine. If you tend to take a certain route to work every day, take another path. Have breakfast somewhere else that prohibits smoking, and if you smoke after a meal, eat fruits or brush your teeth instead. Try drinking other hot beverages instead of your usual morning coffee. This will break the associations that you have formed with smoking.

Keep your hands busy
You can't smoke if your hands are occupied, so think of ways to keep those fingers moving! Every time you feel like your hands are 'empty', message your friend or play some games from your handphone.

Fill up with healthy snacks
Replace cigarette toxins with low-calorie snacks, fruit and vegetables. Fill your mouth with sugar-free candy or mints, this will give you an excuse to reject cigarette offers from your friends.

Resources for Quitting

Join the I Quit Programme and remain smoke free for 28 days and you are 5 times more likely to quit smoking. You can nominate your loved ones as a supporter when you sign up for the programme. Validate your smoke-free status and redeem a HPB eVoucher* worth $50 at the 28th day milestone. Keep going and you'll also receive eVouchers* worth $30 and $20 at the 3rd month and 6th month milestone respectively!

*Terms and conditions apply.

Download the HealthHub app on Google Play or Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.

Read these next: