Short Guide to Quitting Smoking

Smoking Overview

Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, causing more than 440,000 deaths each year and resulting in an annual cost of more than $75 billion in direct medical costs. Nationally, smoking results in more than 5.6 million years of potential life lost each year (CDC). Quitting Smoking is Hard But YOU CAN DO IT! and YOU HAVE TO!Nicotine is a very addictive drug. For some people, it can be as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Quitting is hard. Usually people make 2 or 3 tries, or more, before finally being able to quit. Each time you try to quit, you can learn about what helps and what hurts.

Why Quit?

There are many reason that may motivate you to quit smoking. Jot down all of them on a sheet of paper. That will motivate you to quit. If you can not think of some, here are some reasons:

  • You will live longer and live better.
  • Quitting will lower your chance of having a heart attack, stroke, or cancer.
  • If you are pregnant, quitting smoking will improve your chances of having a healthy baby.
  • The people you live with, especially your children, will be healthier.
  • You will have extra money to spend on things other than cigarettes.
  • You will not be coughing or feeling short of breath as much
  • You will be setting better example for your children.

S.T.A.R.T. Quitting Tips

The following five ways will help you quit smoking.

  • Set a quit date
  • Tell others your plan to quit
  • Anticipate and plan for challenges
  • Remove all tobacco
  • Talk to you Doctor. Medicines that help with withdrawal

Set a quit date

  • Pick a date within the next two weeks to quit. That gives you enough time to get ready. But it’s not so long that you will lose your drive to quit. If you smoke at work, quit on the weekend or during a day off. That way you’ll already be cigarette-free when you return.
  • Review your past attempts to quit. Think about what worked and what did not.

Tell others your plan to quit

  • Quitting smoking is easier with the support of others. Tell your family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit. Ask them not to smoke around you or leave cigarettes out.
  • Do you take any medicines? Tell your doctor and pharmacist you are quitting. Nicotine changes how some drugs work. You may need to change your prescriptions after you quit
  • Get support from other people. You can try talking with others one-on-one or in a group. You can also get support on the phone. You can even try an Internet chat room. This kind of support helps smokers quit. The more support you get, the better. But even a little can help. The more counseling you have, the better your chances are of quitting.

Anticipate and plan for challenges

  • Expecting challenges is an important part of getting ready to quit. Try to distract yourself from urges to smoke. Talk to someone, go for a walk, or get busy with a task.
  • Most people who go back to smoking do it within three months. Your first three months may be hard. 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.
  • You should also expect feelings of withdrawal (Bad mood, weight gain, anxious, difficulty sleeping). It is your body’s way of telling you it’s learning to be smoke-free. These feelings will go away in time.
  • Drink a lot of water and other fluids.

Remove all tobacco

  • Getting rid of things that remind you of smoking will also help you get ready to quit. Get rid of ALL cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car, and place of work.
  • Make things clean and fresh at work, in your car, and at home. Clean your drapes and clothes. Shampoo your car. Buy yourself flowers. You will enjoy their scent as your sense of smell returns.
  • Have your dentist clean your teeth to get rid of smoking stains. See how great they look. Try to keep them that way.
  • Some smokers save one pack of cigarettes. They do it “just in case.” Or they want to prove they have the willpower not to smoke. DON’T! Saving one pack just makes it easier to start smoking again.
  • Don’t use other forms of tobacco instead of cigarettes.

Talk to you Doctor. Medicines that help with withdrawal.

  • Quitting “cold turkey” isn’t your only choice. Talk to your doctor about other ways to quit. Most doctors can answer your questions and give advice. They can suggest medicine to help with withdrawal. You can buy some of these medicines on your own. For others, you need a prescription.
  • Medications can help you stop smoking and lessen the urge to smoke. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved five medications to help you quit smoking:
    • Bupropion SR—Available by prescription.
    • Nicotine gum—Available over-the-counter.
    • Nicotine inhaler—Available by prescription.
    • Nicotine nasal spray—Available by prescription.
    • Nicotine patch—Available by prescription and over-the-counter.
  • Ask your health care provider for advice and carefully read the information on the package. All of these medications will more or less double your chances of quitting and quitting for good.
  • Everyone who is trying to quit may benefit from using a medication. If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, nursing, under age 18, smoking fewer than 10 cigarettes per day, or have a medical condition, talk to your doctor or other health care provider before taking medications.


  • You Can Quit Smoking This is an on-line version of the consumer guide entitled You Can Quit Smoking. This popular Public Health Service brochure provides practical information and helpful tips for those who plan to quit smoking
  • Complete Guide to Quitting (American Cancer Society)
  • offers science-driven tools, information, and support that have been effective in helping smokers quit. Here, you will find state and national resources, free materials, and the best quitting advice the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and its partners have to offer.
  • How Can I Quit Smoking? PDF (American Heart Association). Also available in: Spanish PDF
  • Quit Smoking Action Plan (American Lung Association)

Recommended Books

Quit Smoking Products (buy online)


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