More than one in five American men smokes, but over 70 percent of smokers want to quit. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S. and is responsible for one in every five deaths in the country, a total of over 480,000 every year. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to improve your health, but it can be incredibly challenging. Here are several tips that can help you prepare for what\u2019s to come and increase your chances of success. Understand Your Addiction Before you set a quit date and try to stop smoking, it helps to consider the type of smoker you are. For example, some smokers mainly light up on social occasions, while others smoke to deal with stress and negative emotions or in specific situations (such as when you see a particular friend or go out to a bar), and understanding these things helps you plan your quitting strategy. Write Down Why You Want to Quit It can also help to write down why you want to quit smoking. Do you want to quit so you can be around your loved ones without exposing them to secondhand smoke? Or is it to improve your health and reduce your chances of dying prematurely? Or are you trying to set a better example for your children? There are no wrong reasons to want to quit: just write down whatever is motivating your decision so that you can easily remember if you\u2019re struggling with cravings. START to Quit The acronym START provides a good method for beginning your journey toward quitting smoking: \tSet a quit date. Choose a date in the next two weeks to quit. You can arrange this however it works best for you\u2014for example, if you smoke more when you\u2019re working, quit on the weekend so you can deal with the worst of the cravings without the extra pressure. \tTell your friends and family you plan to quit. People will give you useful advice, offer you encouragement and even offer support when you\u2019re struggling. Additionally, this helps cement your intentions and gives you a sense of accountability for the (excellent) decision you\u2019ve made. \tAnticipate and plan for the challenges of quitting. By taking time to think about your addiction (as above), you\u2019ll have a good idea of the times you\u2019ll be most tempted to relapse. Remember that most people relapse in the first three months, when the cravings are strongest, so ensure that you have a plan for dealing with them. \tRemove all cigarettes (or other tobacco products) from your home, car and workplace. This is an easy one: if you want to quit smoking, you need to throw away all of your cigarettes, lighters, matches, ashtrays and any other smoking accessories. \tTalk to your doctor about getting support during the process. A big mistake many smokers make is trying to quit without support\u2014there is plenty of help available for quitting smoking, and you\u2019ll stand a much better chance of being successful if you use it. Learn to Cope With Your Triggers If you\u2019ve already identified the times you\u2019re most likely to smoke, you have a good understanding of your \u201ctriggers\u201d for smoking. It can also help to keep a \u201ccraving journal,\u201d where you make a note of where you were, what you were doing, how you were feeling, who you were with and what time it was when the craving struck, as well as how strong it was. This can give you insight into what drives you to smoke and may suggest things you can do to reduce your cravings in future. If you always smoked after a meal, try having a piece of fruit, a stick of gum, a piece or chocolate or a healthy dessert instead, and if you smoke at bars, try going only to nonsmoking bars and snacking on chips instead of smoking. If you smoke when you\u2019re stressed, use alternative stress relief methods such as exercising, meditating, listening to music or using relaxation techniques to cope. Managing Cravings Effectively Cravings are a natural part of quitting, and you\u2019ll still get them even if you completely avoid your triggers. However, it\u2019s important to remember that they will pass. When you have a craving, here are tips to help you cope. \tDistract yourself: It doesn\u2019t matter what you do\u2014switch on the TV, have a shower, do the dishes \u2013 do anything to take your mind off of smoking. \tRemember the reasons for quitting you wrote down. They will give you motivation to keep going when the cravings are tough to cope with. \tRemove yourself from the situation. Simply leaving the situation\u2014especially if it\u2019s one of your triggers\u2014will help you cope with cravings. What If You Relapse? For all your efforts, it\u2019s very possible that you\u2019ll relapse at some point. The key thing to remember is that this is normal, and it doesn\u2019t mean that you won\u2019t be able to quit, that you\u2019ve \u201cfailed\u201d or anything of the sort. Most smokers try to quit several times before being successful, so don\u2019t beat yourself up for not being able to do it perfectly on the first attempt. The key thing is to learn from your mistakes. Did you run into a trigger without a coping strategy for it? Did you succumb to a craving? Identify what went wrong and think of what you should have done in that situation. Finally, remember that slipping up\u2014even if you buy a pack of cigarettes\u2014doesn\u2019t mean you\u2019re a smoker again: you\u2019ve just made one mistake, not given up on stopping smoking altogether. Throw away whatever cigarettes you\u2019ve bought and try again, keeping in mind the lesson you\u2019ve learned. Quitting Is Tough but Worthwhile There will be roadblocks along the way, but when you\u2019ve successfully kicked the habit, you\u2019ll be glad you did. Remember what made you want to stop smoking and hold onto that motivation: you can get there, as long as you keep trying and get support when you need it. Use your personal support network, and consider attending counseling or using quit-lines to give you guidance when you\u2019re struggling. And most importantly, congratulate yourself on every craving you successfully manage and every day you go without smoking. Quitting smoking is tough, and if you\u2019re doing well, you should acknowledge that and be proud of yourself. It\u2019ll get easier to keep going every single day.