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Kick the Habit: Tools to Help You Quit Smoking

Combining medication with a quit-smoking program and other tools doubles your chances of quitting for good

By Ginny Greene, Contributing Editor


Have you ever tried to quit smoking and weren’t quite able to make it stick? You may not have used all the tools that are available to you.

Some people quit cold turkey. They manage to stop smoking all at once. But there are other ways to quit. Studies have shown that you have the best chance of success if you combine several approaches.

Here are five techniques that can be used together to help you stop smoking for good.

  1. Prepare. Set a quit date and let those close to you know you mean it this time. Rid your surroundings of smoking-related items. This means no cigarettes, ashtrays, lighters or other smoking accessories at home, at work or in your car. Don’t allow any smoking near you. Once you stop, don’t have so much as a single puff.

  2. Line up support. Encouragement can come from many sources — the more, the better. Your family and friends can help keep you on track. So can a health care provider, a quit coach or a counselor. In fact, counseling has been shown to double your chances of quitting for good. Counseling can be done one-on-one, in a class or group, or by phone. Call toll-free 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free telephone counseling. Check for free classes at a local hospital. Or sign up for a mobile texting service at

  3. Learn new behaviors. Some habits and routines will remind you of smoking. If you used tobacco in the morning, try waking up and taking a walk instead. Take a different route to work. Have lunch with a nonsmoker. Stay away from smoking areas at work and when you go out. Try out a new hobby or an activity that will keep your hands busy and your mind off tobacco.

  4. Use quit-aids and/or medicines. Nicotine replacement products are available from retail outlets and from your doctor to help wean you off nicotine, the addictive ingredient in tobacco. Over-the-counter products include nicotine gum, patches and lozenges.  Or your doctor may prescribe a nicotine inhaler, nasal spray or a prescription-strength patch. There also are other quit smoking medications that are non-nicotine replacement medications, which your doctor may recommend and prescribe for you. Whether the medications are over-the-counter or prescribed, talk to your doctor about what is right for you, particularly if you have any health conditions. Also be sure you read and understand the directions and side effects.

  5. Be ready for slip-ups or challenging situations. Most relapses happen in the first three months after quitting. If you slip up, recommit and start anew on your no-smoking journey. It can take several attempts to quit successfully, so don’t be too hard on yourself. A few things lower your chances of success: drinking alcohol, being around smokers, gaining weight and being depressed or anxious. Plan how you will deal with these challenges ahead of time, so you’ll be prepared if confronted with them.

Don’t forget to celebrate the new, smoke-free you. Reward yourself with a movie or other treat — but never a cigarette! — at important milestones, like at the one-week or one-month mark after you quit. Quitting is hard and you deserve to be proud of your accomplishment.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and tobacco use. Quit tips. Accessed: December 15, 2016.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Slips. Accessed: December 15, 2016. Making a quit plan. Accessed: December 15, 2016.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prepare to quit. Accessed: December 15, 2016.

Updated December 15, 2016