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What do I do about my cravings?

Remember, cravings for nicotine only last a few minutes. There are many things you can do to overcome your cravings, here are some suggestions:

  • Walking briskly for five minutes or doing some stretches.

  • Keep oral substitutes handy, carrots, pickles, apples, celery, and sugar-free gum.

  • Replace a cigarette with a nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) product like patches, gum and lozenges which are available over-the-counter. In fact, NRT is available FREE from 1-800-Quit Now or through the Tobacco Dependence Treatment Clinic at the County, 240-777-3298. Nicotine nasal spray and the nicotine inhaler are available by prescription.

  • A change of scene can really help. Go outside, or go to a different room.

  • Strike up a conversation instead of a match for a cigarette or call a supportive friend

  • Remember your goal (even write it down)and the fact that the urge will eventually pass.

  • Avoid temptation by staying away from situations you associate with pleasurable smoking.

  • Eat several small meals, this helps maintain constant blood sugar levels and helps prevent the urge to smoke. Avoid sugary or spicy foods that trigger a desire for cigarettes.

  • Visit only nonsmoking establishments

Many health care providers suggest smokers avoid alcohol (and sometimes coffee) temporarily after quitting, Drinking alcoholic beverages seems to induce relapses in cigarette smoking. Ask yourself: “What effect will these cravings have on my life a year or more after I quit?”. Happily, the answer is probably “not much!”

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What is second hand smoke?

When you are exposed to smoke in the environment it is called secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is a combination of two types of smoke: sidestream and mainstream smoke.

  • Mainstream smoke is the smoke inhaled /exhaled by a person who is smoking.

  • Sidestream smoke is the smoke from the end of a burning cigarette that floats around in the air.

Both smoke contains a mixture of over 4,000 chemicals, 2,000 of which are poisonous, and upward of 60 have been shown to cause cancer (carcinogens).

Breathing in tobacco smoke causes health problems in all human beings and all people are affected, even if they are healthy. But tobacco smoke is especially harmful to babies and young children, anyone with a weakened immune system such as the elderly, those with asthma or breathing difficulties, and those people recovering from surgery or illness.

Especially vulnerable are people with a heart condition, as exposure to second hand smoke has been shown to double the risk of heart attack and mortality. If you live with a smoker you are at more of a risk of heart attack and lung cancer.

The breathing in of second hand smoke is often not taken seriously, but it really should be. Breathing in tobacco smoke is toxic to heart and lungs, as well as all of the major organs of the body.

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Are “low tar” cigarettes healthier for you?

Many smokers choose “low tar”, “light” cigarettes because they think are safer alternatives to full or regular cigarettes. They could not be more wrong!

The fact is that “low tar” cigarettes have similar rates of cancer as regular cigarettes. “Low tar” cigarettes may be more harmful since people tend to make up for reductions in tar and nicotine by inhaling harder which can actually pose a greater hazard to smokers' health.

“Low tar” cigarettes offer smokers a false promise of reduced risk and the only effective way for a smoker to reduce risk is to quit. There is nothing healthy about any tobacco product!

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Can I smoke if I wear the nicotine patch?


Using ANY tobacco product while wearing the patch is dangerous and may lead to stroke or heart attack.

The patch provides a constant amount of nicotine in your body; the nicotine dissolves right through the skin and enters the body.

The patch can relieve some of the physical symptoms associated with quitting smoking so you can concentrate on your behavioral and psychological addiction to cigarettes.

It is important to follow the directions of your doctor when using the patch

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My job is very stressful, how can you stop when smoking is the only way that relaxes me?

Yes, you can become tobacco free!
Try to channel your job anxiety into constructive activities such as the ones listed in the answer in the above question in “What do I do about my cravings?”

When the urge of a cigarette is strong, try to substitute with relaxing techniques, consider what activities you consider relaxing, here are some suggestions:

  • Brisk walk

  • Listening to music

  • Meeting with friends – Try working out stressful situations with friends, family and co-workers. Holding in frustration will only intensify your pressure.

  • Hot baths & showers

  • Reading

  • Meditation

  • Keep a journal – moving negative thoughts out of your head and onto paper can release a lot of the chaos you may be feeling.

  • Deep breathing exercises

  • Use distractions

  • Sign up for group counseling – Learn about smoking addiction

  • Carve out some “Me Time” – each day, plan to do something for yourself, just for the sheer fun of it. Don’t let anything stop from enjoying yourself!

Find which relaxation techniques work for you and practice daily. Along with improving your ability to relax, you must assess other factors that may trigger stress which may lead you to smoke, such as:

  • Reducing caffeine intake will help you manage your anxiety

  • Good nutrition, eat a well balanced diet will improve your ability to appropriately respond to stress.

  • Get an adequate amount of rest each night.

  • Look for factors in the environment that may predispose to smoking behavior.

  • Remove triggers (things that remind you of cigarettes) from the home such as ashtrays, matches, etc…

  • Establish smoke free zones at home, work, in the car and make access to cigarettes difficult.

We all know that smoking is harmful, yet we still smoke.
We smoke because

  • We like the way it tastes,
  • We like the way it makes us feel,
  • We can’t remember a time without tobacco.

Focus on why you need to quit

  • For you health
  • For your family
  • For your money
  • For your freedom

Remember: Using tobacco is often passed down from parent or grandparent to child. Stop the cycle of tobacco addiction with YOU!

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My spouse, friend, or girlfriend smokes, how can I quit when cigarettes are all around you?

There is no question that being around cigarettes and people who smoke will make things harder for you. But they don’t have to be a reason for not to quit. You are right to be concerned about the effect of family and friends' smoking on your efforts to quit.

First, consider asking your spouse or girlfriend / boyfriend to quit with you. It is possible that he or she may be motivated by your effort and will team up to quit together. If your partner is not interested or not yet ready to quit, you need to have a heart-to-heart talk to explain why quitting is so important to you. Make sure he or she will not try to undercut your efforts either on purpose or subconsciously.

Even if they are not willing to quit for themselves, they may still be interested in seeing you succeed. Make a list of preferred Do’s and Don’ts so that you can be clear about what kind of support for quitting you will find most helpful. For instance, ask your partner to restrict smoking to a specific area in your home or to not smoke in front of you.

If your friends smoke and none of them are interested in quitting, you might consider joining a support group either in person or online. Click here for support groups in your area.

Try to avoid places where you and your friends usually smoke. You can stock up on carrot sticks, sugar-free gum, mints, toothpicks, or even lollipops.

Who knows, you might set an example for your friends and be the reason that they choose a life without tobacco.

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How can I help my child quit?

Recognizing that your child is going to need help to quit smoking is the first step to helping him/her become smoke free. Your child needs your loving and firm support. Here are steps that should help:

  • Talk to your child; let him/her know that that it is going to be tough and that you will be there for him/her.

  • Get help, talk to a tobacco cessation professional on how to go about quitting. Contact Caron Treatment Centers for more information on how to help your child quit tobacco. Caron can be reached at 301- 829-4412 or khouser@caron.org

  • Understand that most smokers are not able to quit on the first try. If your child has a set back, be understanding. Nicotine is an awful addiction and your child will need your positive attitude to continue fighting.

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I have tried to quit before but was unsuccessful, what should I do differently?

Most smokers try to quit smoking several times before they finally succeed. Each attempt gives you new information about what works and what does not work for you.

Use what you learned in your past experiences in your current effort. The only way to fail is to stop trying. Remember more than half of all Americans who have ever smoked have quit. If you keep trying, you can be one of them.

Many of them tried several times before they were able to quit. They made it and quit for good and you can too. Our program is also here to help you, please contact us, we can help. Good luck!