Making resolutions for the new year is a 4,000-year old tradition, so if you’re hoping to make 2014 the year you get healthier, fitter, or happier, you have about four millennia worth of company. To help you on your way, we’ll be posting 10 science-backed action steps for a popular resolution every day through January 12. Be sure to check back for hints and tips to kick off your best year yet!


From cancer, heart disease, and stroke to blindness, blood clots, gum disease, tooth loss, and yellow skin and fingernails, the list of grim health outcomes associated with smoking is pretty long. The new year is a perfect time to quit — and the tips below will help you do it.

1. Motivate yourself to quit.
Make a list of reasons you want to stop puffing and all the awesome things that will result when you’re no longer smoking. Keep this list handy and refer to it frequently.

2. Set a quit date.
Commit to the day you plan to quit (today, maybe?) and do what you have to do to make it stick — write it down, tell loved ones, or set reminders and alerts on your phone.

3. Identify triggers.
Spend some time figuring out what triggers a nic fit. For example, research suggests that merely being in places you associate with smoking can make you want to light upEnvironments as cues to smoke: implications for human extinction-based research and treatment. Conklin CA. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. 2006 Feb;14(1):12-9.. Think ahead to what those places might be for you and come up with an alternative hangout spot for each one. Then make a plan for how you’ll handle cravings. One option is to sign up for SmokefreeTXT for ’round the clock encouragement and advice. Other ideas: Practice relaxation or call a friend for support.

4. Sing it from the mountaintops.
Tell friends and family that you are going to quit so that they can support and encourage you and hold you accountable.

5. Try, try again.
Each time a smoker tries to quit, they learn something about the process that makes them more likely to succeed the next time they try. Plus, research has shown that even successful quitters have experienced temporary relapsesHow does a failed quit attempt among regular smokers affect their cigarette consumption? Findings from the International Tobacco Control Four-Country Survey (ITC-4). Yong HH, Borland R, Hyland A, et al. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 2008 May;10(5):897-905.

6. Celebrate smokelessness.
Reward yourself for your efforts and successes. Buy yourself dinner or some other small treat to recognize your efforts. Maybe a smoke-free week calls for that book you’ve had your eye on, one month means dinner and a movie, six months without a puff calls for a massage, and so on.

7. Find power in numbers.
A smoking cessation group offers extra support from other people who are quitting, too, and increases the chances of quitting successfully by 30 percent.

8. Find something else for your mouth to do.
Chew gum, suck hard candy, crunch celery. Find something reasonably healthy you can keep on you at all times and pop it in your mouth when the urge to smoke hits.

9. Practice mindfulness meditation.

When the urge to smoke hits, try taking a step back, taking a few deep breaths, acknowledging the craving, and then letting it go. Research showed that smokers who practiced mindfulness training showed a greater rate of reduction in smoking.

10. Accept an assist.
Nicotine Replace Therapy (NRT) with patches, inhalers, and lozenges have been show to help people quit smokingNicotine replacement therapy for smoking cessation. Stead LF, Perera R, Bullen C, et al. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2008 Jan 23;(1):CD000146.. Talk to a doctor about whether one of these is an option for you.

Planning to stop smoking in the new year? Tell us what steps you’ve taken or plan to take to make 2014 the year you quit. Let us know in the comments below or get in touch with us on Twitter.