Thinking About Quitting?
When you're craving tobacco, it's hard to focus on quitting. Preparing yourself before you quit can help. Before you quit, get ready for a life without nicotine.
Think about your reasons for quitting
What would motivate you to quit smoking? Think about it. It's important to have your own reasons for quitting.
Use this self-test to help you discover what might motivate you to quit smoking(What is a PDF document?) .
Staying healthy is a common reason to want to quit smoking. Or maybe you want to feel more in control of your life, instead of feeling controlled by tobacco. Teens may have other reasons to quit smoking.
Talk to your family and friends about quitting. Their support might help you decide to quit.
- Quitting smoking: Getting support
Know the risks of smoking
What worries you about smoking? Make a list. Talk about it with your doctor. You may worry about:
- Health problems. Are you out of breath when you walk up the stairs? Are asthma symptoms getting worse? Are you coughing a lot?
- Long-term health risks. Are you afraid of having a heart attack or stroke? How about lung disease or cancer?
- Risks to others. Do you worry about family members getting lung cancer and heart disease? Are you afraid that your children might start smoking because you do? Are you concerned that your baby may die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) if you smoke? Maybe your children have frequent ear infections or asthma.
One Man's Story:
It was throat pain that helped Nate give up smoking for good. Dealing with a sore throat all the time just wasn't worth it anymore. "In the end, I made up my mind and quit."—Nate, 27
Read more about Nate and how he quit smoking.
Look forward to the rewards
What do you gain by quitting? You can:
- Have a younger-looking and healthier body.
- Set a good example for others (especially children).
- If you smoke, your child is more likely to smoke.
- If your teen smokes, he or she is more likely to quit smoking if you quit.3
- If your child never smokes during the teen years, he or she is less likely to start smoking in the future.
- Save money by getting rid of the cost of smoking. To find out how much you spend on cigarettes, see the Interactive Tool: How Much Is Smoking Costing You?
- Be in control of your habits.
Prepare for roadblocks
What could make you start smoking after you stop? Triggers could be events, places, or even people. Alcohol and stress are major triggers for many people. You may always have a smoke after lunch or during happy hour on Fridays. Does your best friend smoke? You can't always avoid these challenges. But you can plan for how to deal with them.
What you need to know
Cravings and nicotine withdrawal. Symptoms include: feeling grouchy or depressed and having trouble sleeping or concentrating.
Here are some things that can help:
- Take medicine to help control the symptoms. Using medicine can double your chances of quitting.1
- Get some exercise.
- Start a new hobby or activity.
- Get counseling and phone support.
- Try to avoid smoking triggers.
For more help, see:
- Quick Tips: What to Do When You Crave Nicotine
- Quitting smoking: Coping with cravings and withdrawal
Failure in the past
If you weren't able to quit in the past, don't lose hope. Studies show that each time you try to quit, you will be stronger and will have learned more about what helps and what makes it harder.
Most people try to quit many times—sometimes as many as 8 to 10 times—before they can quit for good.2
You may gain some weight when you stop smoking. Don't try to avoid this by going on a strict diet at the same time. This will make it even harder to stop smoking.
You can take steps to lower your chance of gaining weight:
- Try to be active. Exercise can also improve your mood.
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and fewer high-fat foods.
- Try not to substitute food for cigarettes. Instead, chew on a drinking straw or a coffee stirrer.
- Try stop-smoking medicines. They can help you get through the worst of your cravings and may help you avoid putting on too much weight.
- Quitting smoking: Dealing with weight gain
Medicines and counseling can help treat depression. Talk to your doctor.
- Should I take medicines to treat depression?
- Depression: Using positive thinking
Lack of support
Support can improve your chances of quitting. Look for people who have stopped smoking, or seek out those family and friends who support your goal to quit. Online and phone support can also help:
- National tobacco quit line: 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669)
- Stop-smoking programs, such as the American Lung Association's Freedom from Smoking program (www.lungusa.com) or QuitNet (www.quitnet.com)
- Quitting smoking: Getting support
Living with or being around someone who smokes
It would be easier for you to quit if those around you didn't smoke. If this isn't an option, talk to the person(s) about not smoking around you. Avoid places where others are smoking if you can.
Drinking alcohol can increase your desire to smoke. Try drinking less alcohol during the first 3 weeks after you quit.
Stress can lead to smoking. Learn new ways of coping with stress. For suggestions, see the topic Stress Management.
Missing your smoking habits or not being able to avoid smoking triggers
Assess your tobacco use(What is a PDF document?) to discover your smoking triggers. For some people, morning coffee and talking on the telephone are common smoking triggers.
- Drinking coffee. Change the way you have coffee: the place, the coffee mug, everything that you did when you were smoking.
- Talking on the telephone. Use a phone in a different room when you are at home. Have small objects nearby to handle while you are on the phone.
Teen issues, such as fitting in with the crowd and dealing with stress
Fresher-smelling clothes and breath are just a few reasons for teens to quit smoking. They may actually improve their chances of fitting in. Also, feeling good physically may help teens deal with stress in healthier ways than by smoking. If you are worried about a teen who smokes, see:
- Substance abuse: Dealing with teen substance abuse.
Quitting smoking when you have other health problems
If you have depression, anxiety, or a similar problem, or if you have had an alcohol or drug use problem, try to care for that problem before you try to stop smoking.
Some people who have had one of these medical problems find that the problem returns when they try to quit smoking. If you have any of these problems, talk to your doctor before you quit smoking. After you quit, seek help right away if you see signs that the problem is returning.
Smoking can also affect the level of certain medicines in your blood. If you take medicines for a health problem, talk with your doctor before you quit smoking to see whether you should change the dose of any of your medicines.