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I quit smoking recently. My urge for a cigarette is still strong. What can I do?

Remember that the urge to smoke usually lasts only three to five minutes. Try to wait it out. Here are some tips from the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) "Clearing the Air: A Step-by-Step Guide to Quitting" on controlling the urge to smoke.

  • Keep other things around instead of cigarettes, such as carrots, pickles, sunflower seeds, apples, raisins, or sugar-free gum.
  • Wash your hands or the dishes when you want a cigarette very badly. Or take a shower.
  • Learn to relax quickly by taking deep breaths. Take 10 slow, deep breaths and hold the last one. Then breathe out slowly. Relax all of your muscles. Picture a soothing, pleasant scene and think only about that image. Get away from it all for a moment.
  • Light incense or a candle instead of a cigarette.
  • Where you are and what is going on around you can make you crave a cigarette. A change of scene can really help. Go outside, go to a different room, or change what you are doing.
  • No matter what, don't think, "Just one won't hurt." It will hurt. It will undo your work so far.
  • Remember: Trying something to beat the urge is always better than trying nothing.

For one-on-one assistance with quitting, or for a free copy of "Clearing the Air: A Step-by-Step Guide to Quitting," call the NCI's Smoking Quitline at 1-877-44U-QUIT from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. You also can visit the NCI Web site and click on "Use Our Step-by-Step Guide to Quitting."


Source: "Ask the CIS" by the Cancer Information Service. "Ask the CIS" is distributed by the Cancer Information Service (CIS) of the Heartland, which serves Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri & Illinois. The CIS is a program of the National Cancer Institute. Call the CIS toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. local time.

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Last update: Wednesday, November 26, 2008




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