6 tips to help you quit smoking for good

As an avid smoker for more than 20 years, Jane1 tried to quit several times – but was never successful. She knew she needed help to quit for good, especially with a young daughter in the house.

Jane enrolled in Quit For Life®, a coaching program for smoking cessation offered through her UnitedHealthcare insurance. After calling quit services to enroll, Jane was connected to a coach who helped her develop a plan to stop smoking.

Through coach Tereacy Pearson, she discovered she needed help to not only manage her journey to quit smoking but the anxiety that often prompted her cravings. Tereacy helped her develop a plan, which included additional support calls to help her focus on deep breathing, instead of smoking, to help with her mental health.

“Jane was ready to make a change towards a healthier lifestyle and I am super proud of her progress,” Tereacy said.

With Tereacy’s help, Jane has not had a cigarette since Oct. 22, 2020.

If you are ready to begin your path to quit smoking, consider these tips:

1. Set a quit date

Quitting smoking successfully is a matter of planning and commitment, so picking a quit date may be an important first step. Consider a date in the next two weeks, where you’ll be able to stay busy but won’t be under too much stress. This may help give you time to prepare but won’t put it off too long where you may lose motivation.

2. Remember the benefits of quitting

There are many health benefits to quitting smoking, and those begin as soon as you quit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these include:

  • Within minutes, your heart rate drops.
  • Within 24 hours, nicotine levels in your blood drop to zero.
  • Within several days, carbon monoxide levels in your blood return to normal.
  • Within months, coughing and wheezing decreases.
  • Within a few years, the risk of cancer, heart disease and other chronic conditions decrease.

3. Recognize triggers

Plan ahead by identifying and practicing ways to manage urgers so that you are ready for your quit date. If you have cigarettes and ashtrays laying around in your home, car or at work, get rid of them. Recognizing and removing your triggers will help make it easier.

4. Seek support

Whether you seek support through friends and family or professional help from a doctor or cessation program, having someone to hold you accountable may help you successfully quit. Check to see if your health insurance plan provides access to any cessation programs. If you are a UnitedHealthcare member, like Jane, you may be eligible for Quit For Life. The program combines physical, psychological and behavioral tools to help you overcome tobacco addiction. Plus, you’ll receive help from a coach, like Tereacy, who will assist you in developing a personalized quit plan and provide you with tools and coaching throughout your journey.

5. Focus on your mental health

It’s common to think that smoking may help calm your nerves and help you manage anxiety, as it tends to create an immediate sense of relaxation. But nicotine may actually make symptoms of anxiety and depression worse, especially as withdrawal symptoms set in. Finding other ways to cope with stress, like through mental health counseling, may help you find healthier ways to alleviate symptoms and make it easier to quit smoking. Check with your health plan to see if you have access to behavioral health resources.

6. Celebrate small victories

Each day you’ve fought the urge to smoke is a victory. Make sure to celebrate your progress to help you stay motivated to continue.

If you are ready to begin your journey to quit smoking, e-cigarettes or vaping, start by talking with your doctor. You can also call Quit For Life to help you plan your next steps.

Sign up to get the latest news from the UnitedHealthcare Newsroom