An Introduction to Smoking Cessation – Stage Three: Preparation

Hello, there! My name is Krystle Eckhart, PsyD, HSP. I’m Think Whole Person Healthcare’s Integrated Behavioral Health Specialist. I’m excited to share with you this series of quick overviews about one of my areas of specialty – smoking cessation. You can learn more about me at the end of this article! First, let’s talk about the five stages of smoking cessation.

With smoking cessation, like most behavior changes, you will likely find yourself going through these stages:

  • Precontemplation: “I’m not ready to quit smoking yet.”
  • Contemplation: “I know that I should quit but I’m not sure how to do it.”
  • Preparation: “I have cut down the number of cigarettes I smoke per day.”
  • Action: “I am ready to quit smoking now.”
  • Maintenance: “I have quit smoking.”

In this article, we’re talking about Stage Three: Preparation. If you missed my previous article about the first two stages of smoking cessation, go back and read it before you continue! (step 1 & 2)


Stage Three: Preparation

Quitting smoking “cold turkey” may work for some people, but research suggests that taking steps to gradually reduce cigarette use and engaging in preparation tasks help people be successful with sustained smoking cessation. Remember, everyone has different ways of quitting, so what may work for you might not be the same for someone else. Use the list below as a starting point and remember to talk with your Think Whole Person Healthcare primary doctor for additional information and support. (Need a primary doctor? Become a patient today.)


Here are some ideas for how to can prepare for smoking cessation:

  • Set a quit date. Perform the tips of your choice below to prepare yourself for that date.
  • Hold your cigarette in your opposite hand.
  • Switch to less favorable brand of cigarettes.
  • Delay (use another skill or strategy to assist in distraction, such as chewing gum, taking a brief walk, deep breathing, etc.). Gradually increase delay. Remember ­– smoking isn’t the only thing that will relieve the urge to smoke. Patience will, too – the urge WILL pass!
    • 5 minute time out: Each time you have desire to smoke, wait 5 minutes before reaching for cigarette.
    • Postpone first cigarette of the day by one hour.
  • Smoke only the cigarettes you want intentionally — catch yourself before mindlessly smoking cigarette out of habit or boredom or while distracted with television, etc.
  • Refrain from emptying ashtrays (as a reminder for how many you have had).
  • Put cigarettes in an unfamiliar/inconvenient location.
  • Watch yourself smoke in a mirror.
  • Stop buying cigarettes in bulk. Buy only one pack at a time.
  • Make smoking unpleasant (e.g., by yourself, outside, not while talking on phone).
  • Eliminate places where you smoke (e.g., only smoke outside, put cigarettes in trunk of car while driving).
  • Smoke only part of the cigarette.
  • Smoke only on odd or even hours of the day.
  • Smoke one less cigarette each day/identify the cigarettes that are the ‘easiest’ to give up.
  • Avoid high-risk triggers if possible. Practice deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation techniques or 5 senses grounding instead.
  • Discuss nicotine replacement therapies with your primary doctor.
  • Find support groups (local, over phone, or online).
  • Discard smoking paraphernalia (dispose of lighters, ashtrays, etc.).
  • Clean smoking areas (e.g., wash curtains, air out cushions, detail car upholstery).

That’s about 20 tips to prepare you for Stage Four: Action. Surely, there are at least a few that can work for you! Which tips do you like the best?

Stay tuned for the next and final article covering Stages Four and Five: Action and Maintenance. If you missed my previous article about Stages One and Two, go back and read it now. Share this article with your loved ones to spread awareness for smoking cessation and Lung Cancer Awareness Month.