That’s right. Don’t quit smoking today*.
But today is the Great American Smokeout! Isn’t quitting today the whole point? Well, not exactly. Understanding why is really important for you and/or the people who smoke in your life. So, read on…
The American Cancer Society has been running the Great American Smokeout (GASO) for some 40 years. GASO began as a campaign to encourage people who smoke to quit for one day, cold turkey. It was a great way to remind people of the risks of smoking and the benefits of quitting. But GASO—and our understanding of effective ways to quit smoking—have evolved since the 1970s.
Two things we’ve come to understand is that cold turkey almost never works, and quitting isn’t a one-day thing, regardless of what you’ve heard. Next time someone tells you that they quit cold turkey, ask them how many times they tried to quit before it stuck. All those “failed” attempts were part of the process. They didn’t quit cold turkey; they made multiple tries until it all came together, and they quit.
You’re more likely to have a successful quit when you recognize that quitting smoking is a journey—one that involves planning, skills-building, and, most importantly, finding your own reasons to quit. True change isn’t about meeting someone else’s expectations for you on a day you didn’t choose.
Maybe today, November 16, isn’t your day to quit*. But it could be the day you start exploring your own motivations around smoking and deciding if, when, and why you might want to quit. So, over the next six days, we’re going to walk you through some steps that can help you answer those questions.
By this time next week, you may find that you’re ready to set a quit date and start planning for it. Or you may decide that now isn’t the time. Either way, you’ll be more aware of when and why you smoke and why you might want to quit someday—on GASO or whatever day you choose.
*Of course, if you decide that today is your day to quit, go for it!
This is the first installment of a seven-post series on how to explore your personal relationship to smoking and quitting, based on some of the initial activities in the Pivot program. The full series is below.
#2 Quitting Smoking: Know Your Patterns
#3 Quitting Smoking: Identify Your Why
#4 Quitting Smoking: Connect with What’s Important
#5 Quitting Smoking: Know What’s in Your Way
#6 Quitting Smoking: Know Your Attitude
#7 Quitting Smoking: Create a Vision