Jan 10, 2022 9:00 AM

Read time: 3 minutes

Doctor holding sheet of paper with acronym START on it

Quitting tobacco products is hard. We asked our expert at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) to share some skills that can help you achieve your goal.

Edlira Farka, APRN, is a family nurse practitioner who works at HCI. She shares her knowledge and expertise in this easy-to-remember list.

S—Set a quit date

Setting a date makes your decision real and allows you to strategize for success. If you are not ready to quit, try to cut down tobacco use. Instead of thinking, “I want to smoke less,” try “I want to cut my smoking in half over the next month.” Having a measurable goal shows if you are making progress and allows you to spot speed bumps in the road ahead.

Also, make sure you pick a date that won’t be busy so your stress level is low. Circle the date on your calendar, write it on a sticky note, or set a reminder in your phone.

My quit date is _____________

T—Tell family, friends, and co-workers you plan to quit

Quitting is easier when you have support from people who are important in your life. Let them know you plan on quitting and share your quit date.

Explain how they can help and ask them to be patient. Quitting may be easier if you team up with a friend who also wants to quit. If you can, avoid people who are negative or criticize your choice.

People who support my decision to quit are _____________________________

A—Anticipate the challenges you will face while quitting

You might have withdrawal symptoms. Some people say it feels like a mild case of the flu. Most people say the worst symptoms last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Symptoms include irritability, exhaustion, hunger, restlessness, trouble sleeping, and cravings to use tobacco.

The first week of quitting is when you are most likely to use tobacco again. To handle withdrawal, adopt habits like eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, exercising gently, getting a lot of rest and sleep, and practicing yoga or deep breathing to help reduce stress.

Healthy withdrawal activities I can do are ______________

R—Remove tobacco products

Cravings to use tobacco start with a trigger. That trigger is a cue or signal that reminds you to use tobacco. External or environmental triggers include seeing an ashtray on your porch, finding an old can of chew in your pocket, or finding a lighter in your car.

To help avoid those triggers, find and destroy “stray” cigarettes, cigars, or chew containers. Clean and empty coat pockets, kitchen drawers, and your glove compartment. Clean and deodorize your home and car to get rid of smoky odors.

Three things I can do to get rid of triggers are __________________________________

T—Talk to your doctor about getting help

Remember we are here to help. Talk to your HCI doctor about a referral to the Tobacco Cessation Program. This program is free for HCI patients.  We provide counseling and medications proven to help people quit.

My tobacco cessation appointment date is ___________________________


Learn more about quitting tobacco.

tobacco health education

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