Tips on How to Quit Smoking

Written by Janelle Martel | Published on July 9, 2012
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD

Overcoming Nicotine Addiction

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 70 percent of individuals who smoke cigarettes would like to quit (CDC, 2012). However, most people who try to quit are not successful in their first attempt. This is because the body physically and emotionally has come to rely on the chemical nicotine.

Most individuals who try to quit smoking will experience nicotine withdrawal, which can last for a few days to a few weeks. Withdrawal can cause symptoms such as depression, anxiety, anger, insomnia, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, and increased appetite. Being aware of these withdrawal symptoms and creating a plan to overcome them can help you quit smoking.

What Are the Benefits of Quitting?

Most of the individuals who are successful at quitting smoking are very determined to quit. Writing down the short-term and long-term benefits of quitting smoking can help you to remain motivated. Remember to be specific about why you wish to stop smoking. It may be helpful to keep this list handy so you can refer to it when you are experiencing cravings.

Benefits of quitting smoking include:

  • a decreased risk of cancer, lung disease, heart attacks, stroke, and vision problems
  • a greater life expectancy
  • a lower risk of miscarriage or of having a baby born with a low birth weight
  • better smelling breath and whiter teeth
  • saving money
  • no more yellowing of the fingernails and fingers
  • a heightened sense of smell and taste
  • the ability to breathe easier
  • no longer exposing others to secondhand smoke
  • a greater acceptance from potential employers or landlords

How to Plan for Quitting

Creating a plan for how you will quit smoking can help set you up for success. First, you should choose a date that you will stop smoking. Some individuals choose to smoke up until this day and quit “cold turkey.” Others prefer to cut back on the number of cigarettes they smoke in the weeks leading up to the chosen date.

It is especially important that you inform your friends and family about the day that you have chosen to quit smoking. This can help to keep you accountable and also allows your friends and family to support you.

Before your chosen day, throw out all your cigarettes and smoking paraphernalia, such as ashtrays and lighters. It may also be helpful for you to clean or throw out anything that smells of cigarette smoke.

It is also a good idea for you to think about when you might crave a cigarette, such as after meals. Try to come up with ways that you can avoid this craving or redirect yourself to a different activity.

It can be very tempting to tell yourself that you will just have one cigarette or one puff of a cigarette. However, this can easily become more than one cigarette. It is best to avoid smoking completely. Instead, focus on your goals. You may even wish to reward yourself for every day that you go without smoking by saving up for a special treat.

Creating Better Habits

Quitting smoking may require you to make lifestyle changes. The goal is to replace negative behaviors with more positive, healthy behaviors. You may need to avoid coffee and alcohol, especially while you are quitting, because these can cause cravings for cigarettes. You may also need to avoid activities that you associate with smoking, as well as other smokers.

Some individuals find that occupying their mouths can be helpful when quitting smoking. This may include sucking on a hard candy, chewing sugarless gum, drinking water, or sucking on a cinnamon stick.

It may also be helpful to take up hobbies that occupy your hands. This may include knitting, crossword puzzles, woodworking, or reading a book.

Exercise can also be helpful in overcoming cravings, cutting down on stress, and managing the weight gain that sometimes occurs as a result of quitting smoking.

Physical and Emotional Support

There are a number of ways that you can get help to quit smoking. Certain treatments were designed to help with the physical symptoms associated with quitting smoking.

These treatments include:

  • nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), which may be given in patch, chewing gum, lozenge, or spray form
  • bupropion (Zyban or Wellbutrin), a medication traditionally used for depression that can help with nicotine cravings
  • varenicline (Chantix), a medication that decreases withdrawal symptoms as well as nicotine’s effect on the brain
  • nortriptyline, an antidepressant that may help increase the chance of success when quitting smoking
  • clonidine, a medication traditionally used to decrease high blood pressure that may help with quitting smoking

Quitting smoking can be emotionally challenging, so psychological support may also be helpful. Treatments to help with the emotional effects of quitting smoking include:

  • telephone-based counselling
  • talk therapy
  • support groups
  • classes or programs for quitting smoking
Was this article helpful? Yes No

Thank you.

Your message has been sent.

We're sorry, an error occurred.

We are unable to collect your feedback at this time. However, your feedback is important to us. Please try again later.

Show Sources

Read This Next

The Best Quit Smoking iPhone & Android Apps of the Year
The Best Quit Smoking iPhone & Android Apps of the Year
This collection of top-rated apps just might be what you need to stop smoking. Take a look, and click, tap, and swipe your way to better health.
The Best Quit Smoking Blogs of the Year
The Best Quit Smoking Blogs of the Year
Read through these blogs, diaries, and sites for guidance on kicking the habit for good. Soon you’ll be able to say, “So long, cigarettes!”
Best Anti-Smoking Videos of 2013
Best Anti-Smoking Videos of 2013
Smoking cigarettes is a terrible habit. Take a step closer to a smoke-free life with helpful tips from the best anti-smoking videos from 2013.
Timing May Be Everything
Timing May Be Everything
While “now” is the short answer to “When’s the best time to quit smoking,” it’s more complicated than that. Your success depends on many factors around timing.
What Happens When You Quit Smoking?
What Happens When You Quit Smoking?
Learn what happens when you quit smoking in a timeline that goes from 20 minutes to 20 years. Start reaping the health benefits now!