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How to Stop Smoking

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 4, 2023.

Why should I stop smoking?

You will improve your health and the health of others around you if you stop smoking. Your risk for heart and lung disease, cancer, stroke, heart attack, and vision problems will also decrease. Your adolescent can help prevent or stop harm to his or her brain or body. This will help him or her become a healthy adult. You can benefit from quitting no matter how long you have smoked.

How can I prepare to stop smoking?

Nicotine is a highly addictive drug found in cigarettes. Withdrawal symptoms can happen when you stop smoking and make it hard to quit. These include anxiety, depression, irritability, trouble sleeping, and increased appetite. You increase your chances of success if you prepare to quit.

  • Set a quit date. Pick a date that is within the next 2 weeks. Do not pick a day that you think may be stressful or busy. Write down the day or circle it on your calender.
  • Tell friends and family that you plan to quit. Explain that you may have withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit. Ask them to support you. They may be able to encourage you and help reduce your stress to make it easier for you to quit.
  • Make a list of your reasons for quitting. Put the list somewhere you will see it every day, such as your refrigerator. You can look at the list when you have a craving.
  • Remove all tobacco and nicotine products from your home, car, and workplace. Also, remove anything else that will tempt you to smoke, such as lighters, matches, or ashtrays. Clean your car, home, and places at work that smell like smoke. The smell of smoke can trigger a craving.
  • Identify triggers that make you want to smoke. This may include activities, feelings, or people. Also write down 1 way you can deal with each of your triggers. For example, if you want to smoke as soon as you wake up, plan another activity during this time, such as exercise.
  • Make a plan for how you will quit. Learn about the tools that can help you quit, such as medicine, counseling, or nicotine replacement therapy. Choose at least 2 options to help you quit.
  • Help your adolescent make a plan to quit. The plan will be more successful if your adolescent makes his or her own decisions. Do not try to pressure him or her to quit immediately or in a certain way. Be supportive and offer help if needed.

What are some tools to help me stop smoking?

  • Counseling from a trained healthcare provider can provide you with support and skills to quit smoking. The provider will also teach you to manage your withdrawal symptoms and cravings. You may receive counseling from one counselor, in group therapy, or through phone therapy called a quit line.
  • Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges may help reduce your nicotine cravings. You may get these without a doctor's order. Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine.
  • Prescription medicines such as nasal sprays or nicotine inhalers may help reduce your withdrawal symptoms. Other medicines may also be used to reduce your urge to smoke. Ask your healthcare provider about these medicines. You may need to start certain medicines 2 weeks before your quit date for them to work well.
  • Hypnosis is a practice that helps guide you through thoughts and feelings. Hypnosis may help decrease your cravings and make you more willing to quit.
  • Acupuncture therapy uses very thin needles to balance energy channels in the body. This is thought to help decrease cravings and symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.
  • Support groups let you talk to others who are trying to quit or have already quit. It may be helpful to speak with others about how they quit.

How can I manage my cravings?

  • Avoid situations, people, and places that tempt you to smoke. Go to nonsmoking places, such as libraries or restaurants. Understand what tempts you and try to avoid these things.
  • Keep your hands busy. Hold things such as a stress ball or pen.
  • Put candy or toothpicks in your mouth. Keep lollipops, sugarless gum, or toothpicks with you at all times.
  • Do not have alcohol or caffeine. These drinks may tempt you to smoke. Drink healthy liquids such as water or juice instead.
  • Reward yourself when you resist your cravings. Rewards will motivate you and help you stay positive.
  • Do an activity that distracts you from your craving. Examples include cleaning, creating art, or gardening.

What should I know about weight gain after I quit?

You may gain a few pounds after you quit smoking. It is healthier for you to gain a few pounds than to continue to smoke. The following can help you prevent weight gain:

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Eat healthy snacks, such as low-fat yogurt, if you get hungry between meals.
    Healthy Foods
  • Drink water before, during, and between meals. This will make your stomach feel full and help prevent you from overeating. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
  • Be physically active. Activity may help reduce your cravings and reduce stress. Take a walk or do some kind of physical activity every day. Ask your healthcare provider which activities are right for you.

Where can I find support and more information?

  • American Lung Association
    1301 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
    Washington , DC 20004
    Phone: 1- 202 - 785-3355
    Phone: 1- 800 - 548-8252
    Web Address:
    Phone: 1- 800 - 784-8669
    Web Address:

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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