There are many options to help you quit smoking, each with their own pros and cons. Finding the approach that works best for you can help make the process easier.

Smoking is considered one of the hardest habits to kick. Nicotine has a high potential for addiction, both physically and psychologically.

Quitting often requires a combination of determination, support, and the use of quitting aids, such as nicotine replacement therapy or prescription medications.

While it may take a few attempts, you can successfully quit smoking and go on to lead a healthier life.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) involves smoking cessation products that can help you manage nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

NRT comes in the following forms:

  • transdermal patch
  • gum
  • nasal spray
  • inhaler
  • sublingual tablets or lozenges

Some of these products, such as nicotine gum and patches, are available over the counter, while others, such as lozenges and inhalers, are prescription only.

NRT provides a lower dose of nicotine so you’re able to wean your body off of nicotine in a gradual and controlled manner, making it easier to quit smoking.

Research shows that different types of NRT are all equally effective for improving smoking abstinence rates and are comparable to the medication bupropion (Wellbutrin).

In particular, combining NRT approaches (for example, using both gum and a patch) improve success rates compared with using only one form.

One 2018 review of 133 studies that included 64,640 participants found that all forms of NRT can increase the rate of quitting by 50% to 60%.

Prescription oral medications, like varenicline and bupropion, can help manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms. They may be a good option if NRT hasn’t worked for you in the past.

The following medications are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help people quit smoking:

Varenicline (Chantix)

Varenicline (Chantix) was the first prescription medication developed specifically to help people quit smoking. It works by partially activating the nicotine receptors in the brain, reducing the pleasurable effects of smoking and decreasing withdrawal symptoms.

Research suggests that varenicline is the most effective monotherapy treatment for tobacco dependence.

In 2021, the drugmaker Pfizer recalled Chantix due to high levels of nitrosamines, a potential cancer-causing compound, but FDA-approved generic versions of varenicline are still available.

Bupropion (Zyban, Wellbutrin)

Bupropion (Zyban, Wellbutrin) is an atypical antidepressant that acts as a dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. This medication can help ease cravings and withdrawal symptoms as well as reduce the pleasurable effects of nicotine, making it less likely you’ll return to smoking.

A 2020 review found that people who were taking bupropion were 52% to 77% more likely to quit smoking than those who used a placebo.

However, some people in the reviewed studies stopped taking bupropion due to the onset of psychiatric symptoms. It’s known that both bupropion (and varenicline) carry a risk of psychological side effects, such as agitation, irritability, depression, or suicidal thoughts.

Nortriptyline (Pamelor)

While varenicline and bupropion are FDA approved for smoking cessation, nortriptyline is used “off label” to help people quit smoking. This means that nortriptyline is FDA approved for certain uses but not for smoking cessation. Still, it may be an option if other approaches, including other medications, haven’t worked.

Nortriptyline affects a number of neurotransmitter systems. It primarily blocks the reuptake of norepinephrine with a lesser effect on serotonin.

Research suggests that combining medication with a form of counseling, such as therapy, is the most effective approach for quitting smoking.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), in particular, can help you address the psychological and behavioral aspects of nicotine addiction.

A CBT therapist can help you identify and change any unhelpful thoughts and behaviors related to smoking as well as help you develop positive coping strategies to overcome cravings and other triggers.

Learn more about how to find a therapist.

If you’re looking for an alternative approach to quitting smoking, consider therapies such as acupuncture and hypnotherapy. You can try these methods alone or with conventional therapy.


Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves inserting fine needles into specific points on the body to stimulate the flow of energy, called qi.

Acupuncture is believed to reduce nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms through the release of natural pain relievers and mood-regulating chemicals, like serotonin and endorphins.

In a 2019 review of 24 trials involving 3,984 participants, acupuncture was found to be more effective in achieving smoking abstinence than no intervention.

Review authors say this approach is more successful when it’s combined with counseling, a smoking cessation program, or moxibustion than when used alone. Moxibustion involves burning ground mugwort to warm certain points along your body.


Hypnotherapy is a type of therapy that uses hypnosis, or a trance-like state, to help you address both the conscious and subconscious parts of your mind.

The conscious mind involves the feelings and thoughts that you’re aware of, while the subconscious mind holds the parts you’re unaware of.

Research shows that hypnotherapy acts on the underlying impulses to weaken your desire to smoke and strengthens your will to quit. Hypnotherapy is widely promoted as an effective approach for aiding smoking cessation.

A 2014 study found that hypnotherapy was more effective than NRT in helping 164 hospitalized participants quit smoking by 26 weeks after discharge.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)

TMS is a type of noninvasive brain stimulation therapy. It involves the use of electromagnetic pulses that stimulate nerve cells.

While this is a relatively new approach, a 2021 study suggests TMS can be a helpful tool for smoking cessation, particularly for managing cravings.

In 2020, TMS received FDA clearance for use as a smoking cessation intervention.

Some people switch to e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking traditional cigarettes. However, it’s still unclear how effective this approach is.

A 2022 systematic review suggests e-cigarettes may be more effective than NRT for smoking cessation. But review authors noted that more high quality research is needed to fully understand the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as a quit-smoking tool.

That said, e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes, though they still pose a range of health risks. If you’re not quite ready to quit smoking, switching to an e-cigarette can be a less harmful option in the meantime.

When choosing a smoking cessation method, it’s important to consider the following factors:

  • Level of nicotine dependence: The severity of your nicotine dependence can affect the type of therapy that’s most effective for you. If you’re a heavy smoker, a healthcare professional may suggest a higher dose of NRT or a combination of NRT and medication.
  • Health conditions or medications: Some smoking cessation medications can interfere with health conditions or other types of medication. Be sure to discuss these issues with a healthcare professional before starting NRT or medication.
  • Be flexible: What works for one person may not work for another. Don’t hesitate to switch to a different approach if one isn’t working for you. Quitting smoking is a process. It may take several attempts to find what works best for you.

Smoking causes nearly 1 in 5 deaths in the United States each year. Quitting smoking is one of the biggest steps you can take toward your health and well-being.

If you’ve tried quitting smoking without success, don’t despair. It’s common for it to take several tries before it works. The most important factor in quitting smoking is a strong determination to quit and a willingness to seek support and resources as needed.