Even With Asthma, You Can Kick the Habit

Even With Asthma, You Can Kick the Habit

Many people give up trying to quit smoking because they have failed in the past. Even though their asthma symptoms are bad, it may seem easier to deal with them than to try to quit.

If you want to quit smoking but feel discouraged, don't lose hope. Try taking a new perspective. Instead of criticizing your failed efforts to quit or the fact that you're still smoking despite having asthma, give yourself credit. Why? Because you acknowledge the dangers of smoking, and you want to quit. You've already made it over the first big hurdle.

Even though you may have unsuccessfully tried to quit before, that's okay. Most people try to quit many times before finding the right way to do it and make it stick. This time, try using a strategy based on behavior-change theory. This is an approach to making changes that has been tested by health experts who help people make positive changes. Using this method means putting some work into each stage of changing--or in this case, each stage of quitting smoking--but it's worth it, since it can increase your chance of success.


Start by making a list of the pros of quitting. How will your asthma benefit? What would it be like if you could breathe better and have fewer attacks? Then list the cons of quitting. How do they match up against the pros?

Quitting isn't easy, so the more you prepare yourself ahead of time, the better. Consider what triggered you to start smoking again when you've tried to quit in the past. Make plans for what you can do instead of smoking. Think about your smoking patterns. How can you change your routine? What other activities can you substitute for smoking?

Start by making your home and work environment smoke-free. Throw out all cigarettes, matches, lighters, and ashtrays. Talk with your health care provider about how he or she can help. Ask about nicotine replacement (gum, lozenges, nasal spray, or a patch), bupropion (Zyban or Wellbutrin), and varenicline (Chantix), as well as a smoking-cessation support group. (There are many online support networks, too.) You can even ask your health care provider to meet with you or check in with you after your quit date. Knowing that he or she will be checking in may help you stay motivated.

Finally, set a quit date at least 10 days to a few weeks in advance. Make it a day when you will not have to deal with other big demands.

Quit day

It's time for action. Stay positive by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, such as "I can do it this time because I am prepared," or "Every day I don't smoke, my lungs will get healthier." Avoid situations that will make you want to smoke, such as drinking alcohol and being around other smokers.

Ask loved ones for encouragement. When quitting seems impossible, think about it in small steps--one day at a time or one hour at a time. When you reach goals, such as a few days or a week without smoking, reward yourself. See a movie or treat yourself to something nice.

Sticking with it

Behavior-change experts know that lapses are common. If you do smoke a cigarette, what matters is what you do next. Don't give up by going back to smoking. Remind yourself that it is just a lapse and continue following your quitting plans. It will help to do things that relieve stress, such as exercise and meditation. Consider yourself still in the quitting process for up to one year after you quit. Sticking with your quitting strategies can help you maintain your smoke-free lifestyle.

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