Time and again research has shown that the best way to quit smoking and stay smoke free is to combine a smoking-cessation aid (like the patch, gum, or prescription medicine) with support from a doctor or healthcare professional who can coach you through the ups and downs of tobacco dependence and quitting. Having this multidimensional approach affords you the ability to try an array of plans, including different smoking-cessation aids, until you find the one that best fits your lifestyle and habits.

Support Groups

Before you start on your path to being a former smoker, talk with your doctor about finding a local community group or substance-abuse group that focuses on cigarette smokers (like Nicotine Anonymous). Your department of health or hospital health outreach program may also have information on groups that fit your needs. Finding a group of people you can relate to will help you understand that what you are experiencing is not unique; lots of people have gone through the rough spots and made it to the other side. A lot of people have also failed, and you can learn as much, if not more, from their setbacks.

Friends & Family

One of the most important things you need is an accountability partner. Inform your friends, family members, and coworkers of your plan to quit smoking. Have them remind you of the importance of quitting and your goals when you face urges to smoke or have severe cravings. They can be an open set of arms when the journey gets tough, and they will be your biggest cheerleaders when you reach a new milestone.

Smoking-Cessation Hotlines

Talking with someone over the phone, someone you don’t know or have a relationship with, may be easier than confiding in a family member or friend. Reach out to experts at the American Lung Association’s HelpLine at 1-800-548-8252. They can provide practical tips for beating a craving or understanding a medicine. The national tobacco quit line, staffed by medical experts and quit coaches, is also available for your questions. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

The Web

Accountability and support can be found on the Internet too. Online stop-smoking programs—such as the Freedom from Smoking plan offered by the American Lung Association or QuitNet—bring together people who are trying to quit. On each of these sites, you can find message boards, question-and-answer sessions with experts, and resources for getting answers to your stop-smoking questions. They also offer tips for dealing with the anxiety and frustrations of quitting, plus information on how to make the most of your new smoke-free life.