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Smoking & tobacco

Quitting smoking

How to quit smoking

Most people find it hard to quit smoking. Quitting can be hard, but it’s not impossible. Many people like you have quit smoking. You can too. Counseling, medications, and other supports can help you quit.

If you’ve tried quitting smoking before but couldn’t do it, try again. Each time you try, it will get easier. You will be one step closer to quitting for good.

Now is the best time to quit. It’s never too late.

How should I quit smoking?

1. Pick a quit day

Choose a date within the next two weeks to quit. Don't wait for the "perfect" day – just pick a date and work with it. Put it in your calendar.

If you'd like:

  • List your reasons for quitting - health, family, money.
  • Write down some new hobbies you can do instead of smoking – exercise, knitting, making model airplanes- something to keep your hands and mind busy.
  • Speak with friends, family, and colleagues and ask for support. Tell them about your plan to quit, so it feels more real to you.
  • Start making the changes to push smoking out of your everyday life - stop smoking in the house and in the car. Make your house and car smoke-free, so no one is allowed to smoke inside.
  • Learn about nicotine withdrawal symptoms and how to cope with them.

2. Choose two or more proven quit-smoking methods

There are many proven ways to quit smoking. To boost your chances of quitting, choose more than one method. Pick what seems right for you. Each person is different. You'll know what will work best for you.

Proven quit smoking methods:

Going “cold turkey” – quitting spontaneously, on your own - also works well for some people. Some people just decide to quit smoking one day - maybe it’s the day they find out they have a lung disease, or the day their grandchild is born. Maybe there is something else that motivates them. Many people who have quit smoking for good say they quit “cold turkey”. If you think going cold turkey could work for you, try it.

3. On your quit date, butt out completely.

  • Don’t smoke, not even a little.
  • Toss out your cigarettes, other tobacco, and ashtrays.
  • Avoid people and situations where you will be tempted to smoke. If you usually smoke in a certain chair, don’t sit in that chair. If you usually smoke at a nightclub, avoid that nightclub for a while. Change your usual routine, so your new routine doesn’t include smoking.
  • Go for a walk instead of a smoke.
  • Be positive. Believe in yourself and your plan.
  • Remember that nicotine withdrawal symptoms only last a short time. Follow these tips to cope with withdrawal symptoms.
  • Get help from support groups, counselors and your local quitline
  • Take it one day at a time. Remind yourself that once the withdrawal is over, you’ll feel better than you have in years. You deserve to feel better…. You’re almost there!
  • Celebrate your success and give yourself credit! Tell people how long you’ve been quit. It's a major achievement and you should be proud.
  • If you’d like, tell us how long you’ve quit. We’d love to hear from you and celebrate your success! You can use this form to submit your quit story.

Consider exercising more. When you're quitting smoking, exercise can help. Exercise is a healthy alternative to smoking, it can take your mind off your cravings, it can help your mood and energy level, and it can help keep off extra weight. If you are new to exercising, start slowly. A walk around the block is a good start.

4. If you slip up, don’t give up. Try quitting again.

Quitting smoking gets easier with practice. Every time you try to quit, you boost your chances of quitting for good. Most people who’ve quit smoking forever had to try 5 or 6 times before they could quit for good. This is normal.

Don't be discouraged if you slip up. You are not a failure. Try to figure out what the barriers were to your quitting. Were the nicotine cravings too strong? Did you go back to smoking when you were stressed? Talk with your counselor, doctor or pharmacist about your experience. Ask yourself how you can do it differently next time. If you think quit smoking medicines will make it easier for you to quit next time, ask your doctor or pharmacist for their recommendation. Then try quitting again. Keep trying.

Unproven methods to quit smoking

Quitting smoking is tough. You are going to spend time, energy, and maybe even money to try to quit. So it’s best to choose quit smoking methods that are proven to work.

We’ve reviewed the medical evidence and put a list of proven quit smoking methods, above. There are also some unproven quit smoking methods that people and companies may try to sell you.

These quit smoking methods have not been proven to work:

  • Acupuncture
  • Acupressure
  • Electrostimulation
  • Laser therapy
  • Hypnosis

It's best to check with your doctor before spending money on these therapies.