Becoming Tobacco Free is a Process

Blog Post created by dr_hurt on Aug 5, 2008
Stopping tobacco completely is not something that usually happens as a single event. Becoming tobacco free is a “process” rather than something that happens all at one time. Making the decision to stop, learning the skills to stop, and applying all the tools to remain tobacco-free are all parts of that process.

Deciding to stop is the first step. People might be ambivalent about stopping for many reasons; for example they fear they will miss smoking, or they will not be able to relax without tobacco, or they might not feel capable of stopping. But they also have reasons to be free from tobacco such as health, family, hygiene, etc... It can help to be clear about your personal reasons for stopping and the reasons you find it difficult to make that decision to stop.

People who quit smoking frequently talk about how they had to re-learn and re-do some of their daily activities. It is a process of trying various coping skills and being aware of all the feelings that come with the new tobacco-free lifestyle. Sometimes people slip or relapse and return to their tobacco even when they have learned some good coping skills.

Slipping or taking steps backwards can be part of the process of eventually becoming tobacco free. Each time a person tries to quit the chances of stopping increase. Usually a person can identify some positive aspects of a previous quit attempt. Oftentimes people can learn some great lessons from their “slips”. These lessons can lead to a successful quit attempt next time.

Most people have several quit attempts before they finally are able to stop for good. It’s important to remember that having patience and a positive attitude are key factors in this process. And, when you decide to stop, use all the tools you have to make it happen and stick with it. Remember to go to the BecomeAnEX.org Web site where you can start a plan to re-learn life without cigarettes.


Dr. Richard D. Hurt is an internationally recognized expert on tobacco dependence. A native of Murray, Kentucky, he joined Mayo Clinic in 1976 and is now a Professor of Medicine at its College of Medicine. In 1988, he founded the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center and since then its staff has treated over 33,000 patients for tobacco dependence. Send your questions directly to Dr. Hurt at AskTheExpert@becomeanex.org