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"Crush your dependency on tobacco!" the ads proclaim.

Patches, acupuncture, hypnotism, and a host of products and techniques promise to rescue one from the prison of smoking. If you believe you can buy your way to salvation, chances are good that you'll be disappointed. These things can decrease the urge to smoke, but most products can't do it on their own.

They require one extra ingredient: willpower.

Beyond the physical addictions lie psychological obstacles, which are fiendishly difficult to battle because they are not immediately obvious. One must identify these emotional components and design a plan to combat them.

Associating the smell of cigarette smoke with happy times could in turn subconsciously link smoking to friendship. Realizing this will help one decide how to handle this psychological addiction. Tobacco's effects sometimes masquerade as feelings and this is a connection must be recognized before it can be overcome.

It is imperative to form a plan to avoid one's smoking triggers. What do you enjoy doing that does not, or need not, involve smoking? Make a list of pleasant diversions so you won't feel deprived. Conversely, devise ways to eliminate the rewards of smoking. When you do smoke, stand outside, alone. Sit on a hard chair. Don't read. Don't watch TV. Don't do anything enjoyable while smoking. This serves a dual purpose, making one think twice about each cigarette, and associating smoking with unpleasantness.

This negative association is crucial. Design the plan correctly and one will despise what must be endured in order to smoke. If you don't cheat, you will weaken the pleasure-smoking connection.

Be scrupulously honest during the planning phase. Only you can foresee to what lengths you will go to cheat. You must not leave any escape hatches open "in case" of failure.

Select a definite quit date, and don't deviate from it. The strongest cravings will be short-lived. Devise ways to combat them ahead of time. During nicotine withdrawal, you will begin to envision ways to find, bum, or sneak smokes. You will suddenly "realize" that it's a bad time to quit. Prepare your safeguards now while your resolve is strong, or excuses to light up will start to sound plausible. Plan ahead. Figure out how to thwart likely methods of cheating. As foolish as it sounds, you will probably try an end-run around your own defenses. Remember: you are doing this for YOU.

The tips below can help you to formulate your own plan. Use them as a guide only, customizing as needed.

1) Buy only one pack at a time.

2) Switch to a brand or type of cigarette you dislike.

3) Walk around the block before smoking.

4) Chew on carrot sticks, straws, swizzle sticks, hard candies.

5) Save ashes and cigarette butts. Accumulate them in a disgusting, smelly heap. Pour the whole mess into a large jar with water to discourage smoking butts.

6) Spend lots of time in nonsmoking areas.

7) Keep your hands occupied in order to deter smoking.

8) Smoke just the first half of each cigarette -- you will avoid the greater concentration of toxins close to the filter.

9) If you habitually reach for a cigarette when you first wake up, leave your cigarettes elsewhere.

10) If coffee or alcohol makes you seek a cigarette, switch to water or juice.

11) Don't set a time interval between cigarettes. Obsessing about how soon you can smoke again will make the cigarette seem like a reward.

12) Establish a reward for the day you have been smoke-free for one month. Charge yourself fifty cents for every cigarette you smoke before your quit date. Use this money to finance something you want. If it helps, have someone else charge you for each cigarette (up to a maximum quota for that day). After you quit, you'll earn a richly
deserved reward!

After Quitting:

14) Plan your first few smoke-free days to be very active, and/or far away from cigarettes.

15) Drink lots of water. Thirst can be a symptom of withdrawal. Water helps clear the toxins from your blood supply, so drink up.

16) Throw away all smoking paraphernalia. Get rid of matches, lighters, ashtrays, and all cigarettes. Evaluate your level of commitment. If you can't bring yourself to throw out all these things, you aren't committed, and you are setting yourself up for failure.

17) Remove the ashtrays and cigarette lighters from your vehicle.

18) Expect the first week to be the hardest. The craving will then subside somewhat, but will be strong for two or three weeks. After that, although the urge to smoke diminishes, triggers can reawaken it, sometimes fiercely. You are largely fighting a psychological battle at this point.

19) Avoid nightclubs, bingo halls, casinos -- any smoke-filled areas. Substitute fun, fresh air activities.

20) Remember, your reward awaits you. Your strength of character is your biggest ally. Ride the crave, and win!