Handling Sticky Situations to Stay Quit

Most people who start smoking or chewing tobacco again do so under stress or peer pressure. So it never hurts to be ready for bad days or stressful situations and to think about how you should handle them.

Keep reading to see some questions and answers about how to stay quit when you’re feeling stressed out or pressured.

My family members and I have always had a ritual of sharing a smoke when we first get together. Even though they are proud of me for quitting smoking, I know that somehow they think I’m judging or rejecting them when I don’t join in the ritual. What can I do to stay quit and not hurt their feelings?

This is a tricky one. You could ask them to join you when you quit smoking or chewing. But whether they agree to that or not, the main thing is for you to not weaken. Here are some other ideas:
  • To break up the tension, try making a joke out of it. Carry a straw or toothpick and pretend to be smoking when your family lights up. You also can chew some gum instead of chewing tobacco (how you handle the spitting part is up to you).
  • If you’re using nicotine replacement therapies, remind them of this and tell them that you shouldn’t use tobacco when you’re taking the medicine.
  • Remind them of your job: being in the military. Talk about how important it is to you and to your fellow service men and women that you are in peak physical health for your sake, their sake, and the sake of our country.

I will deploy soon, and I’m worried that I won’t be able to stay quit under those pressures. What can I do?

This change may not be easy after you’ve quit smoking or chewing tobacco. In fact, it may be the hardest part of staying quit. If you’re not using nicotine replacement therapies (such as nicotine gum), you might want to think about it to get you over the hump of this challenge.

While you’re deployed, someone is likely to offer you a smoke or snuff. Check your quit plan…did you write down any ideas for saying no thanks to smoking or chewing? If not, here are some ideas:
  • Thanks, but I’m trying to quit.
  • Not right now.
  • Thanks, but I don’t chew.
  • Smoking gives me a stomachache/headache.
  • I promised my girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband I wouldn’t smoke on deployment.
  • I plan to start a family after I get home, and I don’t want to be smoking around a baby.
  • No way. My little brother/sister likes to imitate me, and I don’t want him/her to see me chewing tobacco.

Remember, the harmful effects of smoking and chewing impact mission readiness and you’ll need to be tobacco free to stay in peak physical shape. Smoking and chewing tobacco can also keep your body from healing quickly after an illness or injury, and you don’t need that while you’re deployed.

I fell off the wagon. Now I feel like a jerk. How long will it take for me to get this right?

First off, don’t beat yourself up. Most people do not stay quit after just one try. So, you’re in good company.

Quitting smoking or chewing is a process, not a one-time act. It’s like learning to hit a baseball: You probably will hit a bunch of foul balls before you hit a home run, but you just keep learning and trying until you get it right.

It may take two or three or half a dozen tries to quit smoking or chewing tobacco, but eventually you will get that right, too.

Some of my friends make fun of me for quitting smoking. They call me a wuss, a cop-out, and other stuff I can’t print here. How can I handle them without losing their friendship?

Remember junior high school? You may have had the wrong haircut, the wrong clothes, the wrong music or played the wrong sport. Your friends may have teased you then. Think about how you handled the teasing…did you ignore it? Make a funny remark to break the tension? Those kinds of ideas may work for you now.

You’re an adult now, which means you’re in charge of your own health and well-being—and maybe the well-being of a family, too. Since you’re in the service, you’re also responsible for keeping your body fit. You have to do what is best for your health, even if it means not following the crowd of smokers or chewers.