How to Quit Smoking

The most important thing is to try! Although no single approach works best for everyone, many effective quit methods are quit smokingavailable. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about quitting, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW, or visit www.smokefree.govExternal Web Site Icon for more information and support.

You can get ready by setting a quit date in the next few days or weeks, and changing your environment (e.g., get rid of ALL cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car, and place of work and don’t let people smoke in your presence). Also, think about your past attempts to quit. Think about what worked and what did not. And once you quit smoking, don’t smoke—NOT EVEN A PUFF!

Get support and encouragement. Studies have shown that you have a better chance of being successful if you have help. You can get support in many ways. For example, tell your family, friends, and coworkers that you are going to quit and want their support. Ask them not to smoke around you or leave cigarettes out where you can see them.

Talk to your health care provider (e.g., doctor, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, psychologist, or smoking cessation coach or counselor). Get individual, group, or telephone counseling. Counseling doubles your chances of success. The more help you have, the better your chances are of quitting. Counseling can help you identify and overcome situations that trigger the urge to smoke. Free programs are available at local hospitals and health centers. Call your local health department for information about programs in your area. Telephone counseling is also available free of charge across the United States at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

Learn new skills and behaviors. Try to distract yourself from urges to smoke. Talk to someone, go for a walk, or get busy with a task. When you first try to quit, change your routine. Use a different route to work. Drink tea instead of coffee. Eat breakfast in a different place. Do something to reduce your stress. Take a hot bath, exercise, or read a book. Plan something enjoyable to do every day. Drink a lot of water and other fluids.

Talk to your doctor about medication. Medications can help you stop smoking and lessen the urge to smoke.

  • Over-the-counter “nicotine replacement therapies,” or NRTs, can help. These are medications that contain nicotine to help reduce your cravings and withdrawal symptoms so you can focus on changing the behavior and habits that trigger your urge to smoke. NRTs available without a doctor’s prescription include nicotine lozenges, nicotine gum, and nicotine patches.
  • You can also get a prescription from your doctor for NRTS such as nicotine inhalers and nasal sprays that act much like the over-the-counter NRTs.
  • Other prescription medications like bupropion SR and varenicline tartrate do not contain nicotine and work in different ways to help reduce your urge to smoke. These medications are FDA-approved and proven to be effective in helping smokers to quit. Talk to your doctor or health care provider.

Counseling can be combined with over-the-counter or prescription medications. Counseling and medication are effective when used by themselves for treating tobacco dependence. However, the combination of counseling and medication is more effective than either alone.

Regardless of how you decide to quit, whether you use medicines, counseling, or simply stopping smoking now, the most important thing is to try and stick to it.

Support to Quit

For support to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669; TTY 1-800-332-8615). You can get free support and advice from experienced counselors, a personalized quit plan, self-help materials, the latest information about cessation medications, and more.

Online cessation services and resources are also available through the following Web sites:

  • www.smokefree.govExternal Web Site Icon provides free, accurate, evidence-based information and professional assistance to help support the immediate and long-term needs of people trying to quit smoking.
  • women.smokefree.govExternal Web Site Icon provides free, accurate, evidence-based information and professional assistance to help support the immediate and long-term needs of women trying to quit smoking.
  • Quit Tobacco: Make Everyone ProudExternal Web Site Icon is a U.S. Department of Defense-sponsored Web site for military personnel and their families. (by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

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