How to Quit Smoking: 13 Tips to End Addiction

Cigarettes in an ash tray.

No. 1: Know Why You Want to Quit

Quitting smoking is a perfect idea! Get a powerful, motivating reason and do it now! Do it for yourself: to feel better and look younger, and to reduce your chance of getting lung cancer. Do it for your family: protect your loved ones from secondhand smoke.

Cutting cigarettes with scissors.

No. 2: Don't Go Cold Turkey

It's not common to successfully quit smoking by stopping immediately. Most people who quit "cold turkey" end up smoking again. Nicotine addiction can require gradual tapering to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Man holding a package of nicotine gum.

No. 3: Try Nicotine-Replacement Therapy

Nicotine withdrawal can cause restlessness, depression, and can lead to frustration. Cravings can be overwhelming. Nicotine replacement treatments including nicotine gum, patches, and lozenges can help. Do not smoke while using nicotine replacements.

A doctor writing a prescription.

No. 4: Ask About Prescription Pills

Discuss nicotine replacement with your doctor. There are prescription medications that can reduce the craving for cigarettes and reduce withdrawal symptoms.

A man getting counseling to help with his cigarette addiction.

No. 5: Don't Go It Alone

Friends and family can encourage and support you while you are quitting smoking. Some find support groups and/or counselors helpful. Behavioral therapy is often used with success. When these methods are combined with nicotine replacement therapy, your odds of success in quitting can increase.

A woman getting a massage to help manage her stress.

No. 6: Manage Stress

Stress reduction techniques are helpful when quitting smoking. Helpful methods can include yoga, tai chi, music, massage, and exercise.

A man drinking a beer and having a cigarette.

No. 7: Avoid Alcohol, Other Triggers

Alcohol can be a trigger that causes people to return to smoking. Similarly, coffee and meals can cause relapses. Find your triggers, and replace them with other activities. Some find it helpful to brush teeth or chew gum after eating.

A woman cleaning her house to get the smell of smoke out.

No. 8: Clean House

Clear your home of anything that reminds you of smoking. Remove ashtrays and lighters from your home and wash your clothes, upholstery, draperies, and carpets. Air fresheners will also help to eliminate that familiar smell.

A person smoking a cigarette.

No. 9: Try and Try Again

Relapses are common. If you relapse into smoking, analyze your situation and what might have triggered you to smoke again. Redefine your commitment and set a "quit date" and do it!

A man staying active to reduce his nicotine craving by running with his dog.

No. 10: Get Moving

Exercise activity can reduce nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms. When you feel like smoking, go move and find an activity you enjoy. This can also help to keep your weight optimal.

A woman eating celery.

No. 11: Eat Fruits and Veggies

Don't worry about dieting during the early stages of quitting smoking. Focus on eating healthy foods. Of note, vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products tend to make cigarettes taste poorly, according to a Duke University study.

A woman with a jar of money that's been saved from no longer buying cigarettes.

No. 12: Choose Your Reward

Another benefit of stopping smoking is financial. Reward yourself by spending your extra money on something that you enjoy or saving for something you really want!

A man satisfied with his choice to quit smoking.

No. 13: Do It for Your Health

The real reward in stopping smoking is improved health. Stopping smoking lowers your blood pressure, decreases your risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as lung and other forms of cancer.

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REFERENCES:

  • UpToDate: "Quitting smoking (Beyond the Basics)"
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