Quitting smoking, chewing, or vaping is one of the best things you can do for your health, including your teeth and gums. The nicotine in tobacco products creates unsightly yellow stains on your teeth, but they also contribute to more serious issues like gum disease and oral cancers. Research also shows that untreated tooth decay is more common with individuals who use tobacco products. These products include chewing tobacco, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and more. If your New Year’s Resolution is to quit tobacco, you might be wondering how you can stick to it. Let’s take a look at a few strategies to make healthy habits for a fresh new year.
How to Quit Tobacco in 2023
Starting a new habit or stopping an old habit is challenging, but definitely possible. And, the long-term health benefits of quitting chewing tobacco, cigarettes, or e-cigarettes are worth it. Quitting tobacco protects your cardiovascular system, reduces your risk of cancer, can help you sleep better and exercise easier, helps save money, and keeps your teeth and gums healthy. You can also avoid the bad breath, yellow staining, and sores that often occur from frequent tobacco use.
If you’ve decided to quit smoking, chewing, or vaping this year, you probably already know the many benefits. But, finding strategies to quit tobacco and stay away might be harder. Our minds and habits all work a bit differently, so there’s no one-size-fits-all for success. Let’s take a look at a variety of different strategies to quit tobacco in 2023. Feel free to use, ignore, combine, or customize any of these in a way that works best for you.
Identify Your Triggers
The first step to quit tobacco in 2023 is to identify the situations that make you want to smoke, chew, or vape. Maybe you get home from work and have a cigarette, or use your e-cigarette while on a break. Or, maybe you use chewing tobacco at work, but less at home. Think about your day and consider the moments where you use tobacco most.
Change Your Routine
Once you know where you’re most tempted to use tobacco, consider how you might change your routine slightly. This will help to rewire your brain and make an automatic habit less automatic. Studies indicate that changing your environment makes it easier to enact other changes.
Consider your triggers from the previous step. How can you change these situations slightly to disconnect them from the bad habit? For example, if you have a cigarette when you get home from work, what could you try instead? Maybe you could take a walk, play a game, or watch a TV show. Or, if you vape during your break at work, maybe you could go for a walk during your break instead, go for a drive, or take some quiet time at another location. Changing your environment and your routine in a way that works best for you can help you stay away from bad habits.
Focus on the Positives
In many situations, positive reinforcement is more effective than negative reinforcement. In other words, focusing on a bad outcome you’re trying to avoid will be less effective than focusing on a good outcome you’re working towards.
When it comes to quitting tobacco this year, focus on the good you’re doing for your body rather than what you’re denying yourself. When you feel tempted to smoke, vape, or chew, remember all of the good you’ve done for your body, like better sleep, easier breathing, better teeth and gum health, reduced risk of cancer, and a healthier cardiovascular system.
Remember Your Motivation
Why did you decide to quit smoking, vaping, or chewing? Maybe a loved one asked you to quit. Or maybe you wanted to save money, or enjoy better sleep. Maybe you were concerned about cancer or cardiovascular disease. Whatever motivated you to quit, write it down and keep this affirmation handy. New habits are easier to keep when they are meaningful to you in some way.
If your motivation is external, such as a loved one asking you to quit, you might find it harder to stick to your resolution. External motivations tend to be less effective long-term than internal motivations. Even if your main motivation comes from someone else, write down an internal motivation as well.
Consider how you might reward yourself for sticking to your resolution. Avoiding cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and e-cigarettes will help you save money, and you might use some or all of these extra funds to reward yourself with something special. After a month, two months, six months, and a year of quitting, you might buy yourself a gift, try a new experience, or even go on a trip. Looking forward to rewards adds motivation to help you stay motivated and fight temptations.
You might quit tobacco at the start of 2023 and stay away from it for the rest of your life. That’s a fantastic outcome! However, you might yield to temptation at some point, and have a cigarette, e-cigarette, or chewing tobacco again. If this happens, you might be frustrated with yourself. You might feel like all of your progress has been erased, and all of your hard work has been for nothing. But this isn’t true!
If you slip, this doesn’t mean you have to return to old habits. Any progress you’ve made, whether you’ve quit tobacco for a week, month, or several months, is positive, and still exists. Instead of beating yourself up, ask yourself why you slipped, or what situation was tempting to you, and how you might change this or avoid it in the future. Instead of looking at a slip-up as a failure, consider it a learning opportunity. Focus on your goals again, consider how you might rework your situations, and resume making good habits. Remember; progress isn’t all-or-nothing, and you’re not perfect, and that’s okay.
If you’ve smoked, used chewing tobacco, or vaped for a long time, you might notice yellow teeth, sores, dry mouth, or other dental problems. As a part of your 2023 resolution to quit, consider making a dental appointment to correct these issues and keep your mouth healthy.