If you happen to live in the Washington DC greater metropolitan area and have decided that this is the time for you to quit smoking (possibly again), then this article is for you. As a fairly heavy smoker in the past, I do know what it takes and how difficult it can sometimes be to resist the urge, but I also know that the suggestions I provide here have worked very well for me. They are in no particular order of priority nor does any one suggestion work much better than the other at any given point. The idea is to try to incorporate all of these tips into your new, healthier and smoke-free lifestyle:
1) Find Support. You are not the only one going through with putting down those cigarettes for whatever reason you may have. The District cares and offers help through their DC Department of Health. Their assistance ranges from providing helpful information packets, to free cessation counseling for families, to free nicotine patches or lozenges, to other useful items depending on your perceived level of dependency. If you really are serious about quitting, then you should consider contacting them on their Quit Line: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) and be sure to visit their website.
2) Exercise. Exercising provides you with tons of great secondary benefits that can help you quit smoking. It will occupy your time with more constructive activities, you will feel healthier, you might meet other health-conscious people, and quite frankly, you might just feel the direct physical effects of your previous smoking while exercising. These activities can help reduce stress, occupy your free time, and help keep your mindset in the frame that smoking is not something you want to continue. While DC is packed full of gyms in nearly every neighborhood, there are tons of places in and around DC to get active outdoors as well. Take a run or bike ride through Rock Creek Park (this trail goes all the way up to Maryland), walk the Riverfront or along the National Memorials, take a day trip to Great Falls, get out of town and hike the Appalachians with your family for a weekend, take up kayaking or some other sport. There are endless options to get outdoors during the wonderful warmer season DC has to offer. Get out there!
3) Minimize the Temptation. Everybody has different triggers for craving a cigarette whether it be a certain smell or sound, after a couple of beers, building stress, after a big meal, with your morning coffee, etc. One suggestion is to change your habits, but that already is hard enough just trying to quit one of them! Luckily for us, smoking is essentially banned in every indoor venue in the District which forces the smokers outside. I found that in order to keep my craving down, I still would venture outside but I would go for a walk around the block instead. DC is a great walking town for the most part and there are typically local shops around to poke your head in. And in that sweltering summer heat, you’ll be secretly celebrating that you WON’T be going outside for a smoke with the others. The idea is to not change your behavior too drastically, but to just find alternatives to what you’re used to. Preferably healthy ones.
4) Healthier “Smoking” Alternatives. This includes nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, and electronic cigarettes. While I think this is the “worst” recommendation, it can also be very effective in helping you put down those cigarettes once and for all. These items are sold in generally all CVS or Walgreens or other local pharmacy across the District. I personally would recommend buying an electronic cigarette as it helps simulate the habit of smoking effectively, while also changing your (unhealthy) behaviors. These can generally be purchased in the same places mentioned above throughout DC, but I have found White Cloud Cigarettes are some of the best on the market and can be purchased online and delivered to your doorstep. You can even make your coworkers and friends jealous by “smoking” inside!
5) Last but not least: STAY COMMITTED!!
Eric Nelson was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas and has since moved to Washington, DC as of 2005. He has recently returned to actively playing tennis and enjoys exploring the city as it continues to change and develop.