You've made a big decision. You're going to quit smoking.
Quitting is hard, and you probably know this. Maybe you've quit before. If so, that's normal. Most people quit many times.
What can you do to make it more likely that you'll kick the habit for good?
One important part of quitting smoking is getting help from those around you. Your family, friends, coworkers, and community groups all can help you.
The following information also applies if you use other tobacco products, such as chew or snuff.
- Tell people that you're trying to quit. Don't hide your attempt because you're afraid people will see you fail. Most people know how hard it is to quit smoking and that many smokers have to try several times before they succeed.
- Support can help you quit smoking, and experts recommend getting support from friends, family, and coworkers. Former smokers can often offer advice and inspiration.
- Support comes in many forms. It can be positive words and actions, helpful tips, or gentle reminders to stay on track.
Before anybody can help you quit smoking, you have to ask for help. Many people are wary of helping. They may feel that asking how you are doing is the same as nagging you and that this may make it harder for you to quit.
Tell people that you're quitting and that you want their support. Make clear what you expect. Do you want to ask a friend to call you each day, or every couple of days, to see how you are doing? Or would you prefer to ask your friend if you can call when you need support? Be sure to tell people how much help you want.
Let people know what to expect when you quit and how they can help.
- Tell others that as you stop using tobacco, you may be nervous or grouchy. Ask them for their patience, because your moodiness and cravings will pass.
- Ask others to invite you to activities to help keep your mind off smoking. Tell them that you'll invite them to do things too. Try going for lunchtime walks, going to movies, or getting involved with a hobby.
- Plan special celebrations with your family and friends when you reach one of your quit-smoking goals.
- Find someone else who wants to quit, and agree to be "quit buddies." This may make quitting easier. You know that someone is sharing the same goals. Your buddy can help you when you're having a craving.
- Tell people the specific ways they can help you. You may ask one friend to call or visit you to see how it's going. You may ask another friend if you can call when stress causes a craving or just to talk things over.
- Talk with others about your fears. For example, many people are worried about gaining weight when they quit smoking. If you are worried about gaining weight, tell a close friend about your fear. Ask for his or her support in being more active and making good food choices.
Smokers usually have triggers, which are things that make you want to smoke. Family and friends can help you avoid them.
- Ask friends and family not to take you to places where people smoke.
- Identify your triggers, and ask for help avoiding them. For example, if you always have had a smoke with a coffee break, ask a coworker to come by your desk at this time for a chat or a quick walk.
- Drinking alcohol is often a trigger. You may need to give up alcohol while you are quitting smoking.
Talking to other smokers
Friends who smoke or who have quit smoking can help you.
- Talk to people who have quit smoking. They understand what you're going through and can help you through your cravings.
- Ask them how they got through times when they wanted to smoke again.
- Ask them about the good things that quitting smoking has done for them, such as a change in their health and sense of well-being.
- Ask them for any tips on how to make it easier and about using medicine, classes, or phone hotlines for quitting.
- Ask people who smoke not to smoke around you. Ask them to keep ashtrays and cigarette packs out of sight.
- If you live with someone who smokes, see if that person wants to quit smoking with you. If not, talk with him or her about not smoking in front of you and about setting up smoke-free areas.
Other types of support
Many people reach beyond family and friends for support. Here are some ideas:
- Tell your doctor the good news that you are planning to quit. Your doctor may suggest medicine to help you quit. Or if you were thinking about trying nicotine replacement, he or she can help you decide whether to use just one product or if a combination might work best for you.
- Get advice and support. This can be by telephone, one-on-one, or in a group. The more support you get, the better your chances of quitting. Counseling sessions can also help you if you start smoking again.
- Join a support group for people who are quitting smoking. People who have quit or are quitting know what you're going through and can help you.
- Join a quit-smoking program. Your doctor may be able to suggest one. You can also find programs on the Internet.
- Call a stop-smoking hotline, such as 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669).
- Try a free stop-smoking app if you have a smartphone, tablet, or other handheld computer device. National Cancer Institute's QuitPal allows you to track your progress and share your successes on social networking sites. It also allows your friends and family to record inspiring videos that you can play when you are having a hard time with cravings or stress.
When you quit, pass it on. Be sure to support other smokers who are trying to quit.
Current as of: March 22, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Christine R. Maldonado PhD - Behavioral Health