| Thu, Mar 12, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Tips to Help You Quit Smoking for Good

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

quit smokingAre you one of the more than 70 percent of smokers who want to quit?1 Here’s some good news — more than half of all adult smokers have quit — and you can, too.2 But knowing you should quit may not be enough motivation to quit for good. Many successful quitters had to reach a point where they wanted to quit so badly that they were willing to tolerate the unpleasant and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and cravings that usually come with quitting smoking.

For the first week or so, you may experience physical nicotine withdrawal symptoms, like sleeplessness, anger and agitation.3 Even after the nicotine has left your body, you may continue to have intense cravings that are hard to ignore. Once a craving has a grip on you, it may feel like an eternity, when in reality it takes only a brief period of time for the craving to pass.4 The urge to smoke will come and go until the cravings get farther apart. Occasional mild cravings may last for several months.5

To help you quit smoking, start by writing down why you want to quit. Reasons may include wanting to have better health now and in the future, to set a good example for your children, to protect your family from second-hand smoke, and to be around for your loved ones. You need to imagine living your life as a non-smoker.

The National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health recommends the following advice to help you quit smoking.

  • Keep busy and avoid smoking triggers, such as limiting contact with other smokers, especially in the early weeks of quitting.
  • Do not buy, carry, light, or hold cigarettes for others.
  • If you are in a group and others light up, excuse yourself, and don’t return until they have finished.
  • Instead of smoking, chew on carrots, pickles, apples, celery, sugarless gum, or hard candy. Keeping your mouth busy may stop the psychological need to smoke.
  • Reduce caffeine by limiting or avoiding coffee, soda, and tea.
  • Engage in physical activity, such as taking a walk.
  • Do not let people smoke in your home.
  • Brush your teeth or use mouthwash right after meals.
  • Remove the ashtray, lighter, and cigarettes from your car.
  • Try relaxation techniques, such as progressive relaxation or yoga, and stick with the technique that works best for you.
  • Focus on what you’ve gained by quitting. For example, think of the health benefits when all smoking effects are gone from your body and you can call yourself smoke-free.
  • Add up how much money you have saved already by not purchasing cigarettes
  • Tell yourself:
    • “This urge will go away in a few minutes.”
    • “So, I’m not enjoying this car ride. Big deal! It won’t last forever!”
    • “My car smells clean and fresh!”
    • “I’m a better driver now that I’m not smoking while driving.”
  • Try nicotine replacement products, like patches, gum and lozenges,
  • Talk to your doctor about FDA-approved, non-nicotine cessation medications

Click here for The National Cancer Institute’s detailed list on how to handle withdrawal symptoms and triggers when you decide to quit smoking.

Watch the video Tips From Former Smokers for real stories of people living with smoking-related diseases and disabilities.

Medicare Coverage

Medicare Part B covers up to eight face-to-face smoking cessation visits in a 12-month period. These visits must be provided by a qualified doctor or other Medicare-recognized practitioner.

You pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for the doctor’s services, and the Part B deductible applies if you use tobacco and you’ve been diagnosed with an illness caused or complicated by tobacco use, or you take a medicine that’s affected by tobacco. In a hospital outpatient setting, you also pay the hospital a copayment.

If you haven’t been diagnosed with an illness caused or complicated by tobacco use, you pay nothing for the counseling sessions if the doctor or other health care provider accepts assignment.

Other Resources That May Help You Quit Smoking:

Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for support in quitting, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to local resources. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Go to Smokefree.gov for a step-by-step Quit Guide to learn about other tips for managing cravings.

Call the Smoking Quit-line at 1–877–44U–QUIT (1–877–448–7848) for individualized counseling, printed information, and referrals to other sources.

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.


Get Help Quitting Tobacco with Counseling: Medicare.gov

Benefits of Quitting: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Smoking Cessation, Creating a Quit-Smoking Plan: Mayo Clinic Staff

1, 2 Benefits of Quitting, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, December 5, 2014

3, 4, 5 How To Handle Withdrawal Symptoms and Triggers When You Decide To Quit Smoking, National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, October 29, 2010


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