5 keys for quitting
5 keys for quitting
The more you know about how to quit, the better your chances of success.1
Quitting is a very personal experience, but you are not alone. There's no one way that works for everyone. A good way to start is to get as much information as you can, and decide on a plan that's right for you.
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Get Ready

Plan and prepare—that's the first key to quitting tobacco successfully.

You Can Do It!

  • Choose a specific quit date.
  • Think about all the ways quitting will improve your life and health.
  • Get rid of temptations.
  • Think about what you learned from past attempts to quit.
“I did a 360 of my whole life and quitting cigarettes and dip was a big part of it. I started eating healthier, stopped drinking beer and started to get back in the gym. I just took it one day at a time.”
- Brett G., Tobacco-user for 7 years, Tobacco-free for 5 years
For more about getting ready to quit:
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Get Support and Encouragement

You are not alone in your efforts to quit. Research shows your odds are better if you get support from others.2

  • Talk to friends, family and coworkers about why you want to quit and how important it is to you.
  • Ask them to keep tobacco out of sight.
  • Get expert help. Ask a doctor, psychologist, or other health professional for advice or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free telephone counseling and quitting information.
“Let the people who are really close to you know your intentions. That way they can make it even easier for you to quit. They’re going to find a way to be a part of the solution to keep you from having to go back to the habit. If you try to do it all on your own, it’s going to be way harder.”
- Rodrick B., Smoked for 6 years, Smoke-free for 6 months
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Learn New Skills and Behaviors

You may not think of quitting tobacco as a skill, but in some ways, it's like riding a bike. You figure out how to move forward, keep your balance, and get where you want to go. And if you should fall, you can get up and keep on going.

  • Plan ways to distract yourself from urges.
  • Have other things nearby to hold in your hands or put in your mouth.
  • Look for fun activities that don’t include tobacco.
  • Be prepared to manage withdrawal symptoms.
“This was all about life goals and getting myself together. I started going to the gym. I have lost some weight, although I have a lot more to go. It makes you feel good when you know you can do something and stick with it.”
- Shakisha J., Smoked for 25 years, Smoke-free for ~6 months
For more information:
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Get Medication and Use it Correctly

For many people, medication can be the key to quitting smoking. Using medication can greatly increase your chances of quitting for good.3

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several medications to help people quit smoking. Some are available without a prescription and provide small amounts of nicotine to help you manage withdrawal symptoms and urges. Other medications must be prescribed by a doctor.

Many state telephone quitlines offer free or reduced-price medications to eligible callers - call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to learn more. Some medications may also be covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

Be sure to speak to your health care provider or pharmacist about how medication can help you in your efforts to quit.

“Have a reason that’s motivating you to want to quit smoking. It was a number of things for me, mostly my family. My girls are proud of me for quitting. That’s a biggie!”
- Anita E., Smoked for 25 years, Smoke-free for 6 years
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Be Prepared for Relapse or Difficult Situations

For most people, quitting is not the biggest challenge; it's staying quit. The greatest risk for relapse is in the first three months after quitting, so be prepared to handle difficult situations and to recover if you slip.

  • Find new ways to handle stress or calm your nerves.
  • If you do slip, don't beat yourself up, and don't give up – learn from it.
  • Limit or monitor your use of triggers like coffee and alcohol.
  • Eat healthy foods and get some exercise to help manage your weight and mood.
  • Remind yourself of the benefits of quitting.
“Know your own limitations … the people, places, and things that you associate with smoking. My best friend still smokes and now I can go around her. But at first I just couldn’t and she understood that.”
- Jessica H., Smoked for 10 years, Smoke-free for 3 years
For more about staying tobacco-free:

1 Dunston A, August 2003. Kicking Butts in the Twenty-First Century: What modern science has learned about smoking cessation, New York: American Council on Science and Health, p.8.

2 Murray RP, Johnston JJ, Dolce JJ et al: Social support for smoking cessation and abstinence: The Lung Health Study. Addictive Behaviors, vol. 20, 1995, p. 159-170. cf., Creswell KG, Cheng Y, Levine MD: A test of the stress-buffering model of social support in smoking cessation: Is the relationship between social support and time to relapse mediated by reduced withdrawal symptoms? Nicotine Tobacco Research, Vol. 17, Issue 5, 2015, p. 566-71.

3 Fiore MC, Jaen CR, Baker TB, et al. Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence:2008 Update. Clinical Practice Guideline. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service. May 2008.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises the use of effective quit smoking medications, except when medically contraindicated or with specific populations for which there is insufficient evidence of effectiveness (i.e., pregnant women, smokeless tobacco users, light smokers and adolescents).