Quitting tobacco may be a common conversation you have with your patients to help improve their health. So why does the recommendation stick with some patients, but not others? Because quitting smoking is really hard! It’s a process, but every reminder of the benefits of quitting can help advance them in their journey. Approaching the subject with empathy and helpful resources can increase your patient’s chances for success.
The truth is, if they’re open to a conversation, they’re already in the contemplation stage which is an accomplishment in itself—congratulate them on having the desire to make a positive change! Focus on the benefits of quitting and find what matters most to help motivate them to take action:
- Is money tight? Share this quit smoking calculator to show how much money they can save from quitting smoking.
- Are they pregnant, planning to be, or do they have children, or spend time with children who look up to them? The smoking rate of children whose parents started smoking in their twenties is 29%, compared to 8% for children whose parents never smoked.1 Also, when the oldest sibling smokes, younger siblings are six times as likely to smoke.1
- Has the pandemic been particularly scary for them? Reinforce that stopping smoking can help them stay healthier during COVID-19. The risk of smokers developing severe disease and death from COVID-19 is up to 50% higher than that of non-smokers.2
Is cold weather coming and they hate standing out in the cold? Does their breath stink or their teeth aren’t as white as they want them to be? The list goes on and on, but the most impactful reasons could be within their own personal health history. Reinforcing your patient's personal "why I want to quit" is powerful. Tailoring your message to each patient engages them and shows you care about their overall health.
The hard truth is, only about 5-7% of people who try to quit without help succeed at quitting.3 While “cold-turkey” is possible, research shows a combination of anti-nicotine products and therapy make success more likely. Our newest Krames Store workbook, You Can Quit Tobacco, offers 60 pages of information, resources and interactive tools to help people choose the most effective method for their quitting journey. Here’s an excerpt from that workbook:
Five tips for staying on course
Once you’ve done the hardest part of quitting tobacco—getting through the first few weeks—it’s time to think about ways to stay quit in the long term.
Tip #1: Stay positive.
Take one day at a time and don’t beat yourself up if you still have cravings or have an occasional slip. Even though cravings should decrease the longer you stay quit, they can still happen. It’s normal. If you need help, go back to your list of ways to deal with triggers. Add new ideas if you need to.
Tip #2: Be active.
Exercise is a great way to boost your mood and make your body feel good. If you didn’t start exercising while you were quitting, think about starting now. Getting exercise doesn’t mean you have to join a gym or start classes, though it can. You can get exercise by taking a hike, playing with your kids, riding a bike, dancing, or doing housework. And now that you’ve quit tobacco, you may find you have more energy to take up a new activity.
Tip #3: Deal with your stress.
For many people, stress is a trigger to use tobacco. Finding new ways to deal with your stress is key to staying quit for the long term. Try one of these ways for dealing with stress:
- Limit caffeine. Drinks with caffeine, like coffee, tea, and some types of soda, can make you feel jittery and tense. Cutting back on these drinks, or replacing them with non-caffeinated options, may help you feel calmer.
- Focus on the present. It’s easy to get wrapped up in worry about the future. Instead, try to focus on the present moment.
- Help others. Doing something nice for someone else can make you feel good and help you forget about your own stress.
- Practice acceptance. Life has its ups and downs, and you can’t control everything. Accept that you will have good days and bad days.
Tip #4: Keep the rewards coming.
Remember that what you’re doing isn’t easy. Keep rewarding yourself for reaching milestones and beating cravings. Use the money you’re saving on tobacco to buy yourself a present. Or take advantage of having more energy to do something fun with a friend.
Tip #5: Ask for help.
Even after you’ve quit tobacco for months or years, you may still have cravings. You don’t have to go it alone. Sign up for a text support program, call a friend, or speak with a counselor at SmokeFree.gov Quitline at 877-44U-QUIT (877-448-7848). Quitlines provide free coaching by phone to help you quit tobacco.
1 Teens More Likely to Smoke if Parents Were Smokers, Even if They Quit Long Ago. Partnership to End Addiction web site. https://drugfree.org/drug-and-alcohol-news/teens-more-likely-to-smoke-if-parents-were-smokers-even-if-they-quit-long-ago/. Accessed October 5, 2021.
2 WHO supports people quitting tobacco to reduce their risk of severe COVID-19. World Health Organization web site. https://www.who.int/news/item/28-05-2021-who-supports-people-quitting-tobacco-to-reduce-their-risk-of-severe-covid-19. May 28, 2021. Accessed October 5, 2021.
3 How to Quit Smoking. WebMD web site. https://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/quit-smoking September 28, 2021. Accessed October 5, 2021.