Pair of hands breaking a cigarette in half

Learn How to Stop Smoking: Our Guide to Start Your Quit

Quitting smoking is often a big commitment that can be difficult, but it can get easier if you know how to begin your journey forward. No matter where you are on your journey or how many times your quit attempt has failed, you can still take the first steps to stop smoking today. Follow our tips to help you or someone you know learn how to stop smoking. Learn how to get ready to stop smoking, several different quit smoking methods and what to expect when you quit.

Get Ready to Quit Smoking

The first step to getting ready to quit smoking is to realize you want to stop smoking or smoke less. Give yourself time to get ready and make a plan to quit but try not to put it off too long. Choose a date that is a week or two away so you don't lose motivation. Things that can help you get ready to quit smoking include:

  • Create a personal quit plan. A written quit plan can help you stay focused and motivated while trying to quit smoking. You make a quit plan with help or by writing out your quit deadline, reason for quitting and timeline.

  • Find accountability partners. It can make the process easier to have someone accompany you on your quitting smoking journey! Whether they're someone who is also trying to quit smoking or someone who can help keep you accountable to your deadlines, a partner can help you stick to a schedule.

  • Tell your family and friends. Let your family and friends know you're trying to quit. They can help support you through your journey and cheer you on.

  • Know your triggers. Try to write down what triggers you to smoke. Knowing your smoking triggers is important because you’ll be better able to avoid them once you identify them.

  • Know why you're quitting. A strong reason behind why you're quitting can help your stay motivated on your quit smoking journey. Whether it's for health, lifestyle, family, or other reasons, knowing why you want to quit helps you keep going.

Explore Quit Smoking Options

Your quitting smoking journey is just as unique as you are and learning how to stop smoking may require a number of different methods and techniques. You may even find yourself combining methods or changing your current quit smoking method for one that works better. You can talk to your doctor or people you know who have quit and see what methods worked for them to start gathering information.

Read on to find out how to stop smoking with some of the best ways to quit smoking:

OTC Nicotine Replacement Therapy

There are several different nicotine replacement therapy solutions that can help you learn how to quit smoking. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is the most commonly used group of quit smoking medications.1 They work by reducing withdrawal feelings by giving you a small amount of nicotine without the chemicals present in cigarettes. This small dose of nicotine in NRT medications can help satisfy your cravings without smoking and reduce your urge to smoke.1

There are several different types of nicotine replacement therapy products but you don't need a prescription for most. Common nicotine replacement products include:1

  • Patches: patches are placed on the skin and release a small, steady dose of nicotine

  • Gum: gum releases a dose of nicotine while being chewed to help curb smoking cravings

  • Lozenges: lozenges are placed in the mouth, where it releases nicotine slowly as it dissolves.

Prescription Medications

Your doctor can prescribe some prescription medications that help increase your chances of quitting for good. Common prescription quit smoking medications include:

  • NRT Inhalers: this inhaler administers a specific dose of nicotine through breathing it in. Like OTC nicotine replacement products, this helps reduce smoking cravings and avoid smoking.1

  • NRT Nasal Spray: this nasal spray administers a small dose of nicotine through the nose.1

  • Varenicline: this is another prescription medication that contains no nicotine. It helps you quit by easing the symptoms of withdrawal and blocking the effects of nicotine while on this medication.2

Make sure to discuss whether these medications are right for you with your doctor before trying something new.

Cold Turkey Method

A very well-known quit method, for cigarette smoking and other habits, is the cold-turkey method. More can be said about the origin of the name, but this method basically includes picking a day to quit and then not smoking again after that. Rather than gradually quitting smoking or using nicotine, followers of the cold turkey method stop immediately. However, this method might not be right for everyone. In fact, the success rate for quitting cold turkey is only around five percent.3

Side Effects of Quitting Smoking

An important part of how to stop smoking is knowing what to expect when you start your quit. When you quit smoking, you will likely experience some short- term problems in the form of withdrawal symptoms. Common symptoms of withdrawal include:4

  • Nicotine cravings
  • Anger, frustrastion, irritability
  • Anxiety & depression
  • Weight gain

Withdrawal symptoms are usually worst in the first week and will get less intense and then stop over time. These symptoms are temporary and will go away soon. There are also different things you can do to manage your withdrawal symptoms, such as nicotine replacement products, exercising, trying meditation techniques, reduce caffeine, keep in contact with friends and family, and limiting your contact with other smokers for the first few weeks.

While there are negative withdrawal symptoms from quitting smoking, there are also plenty of positive side effects of quitting smoking. Whether for your health, your family or for your lifestyle, quitting smoking is a big accomplishment.

In the end, quitting smoking is a personal process that goes differently for each person. Take each day one step at a time and keep working towards your goal of quitting smoking. Learn more about quit smoking programs, our support hub and commonly asked questions.


1. Learn About Nicotine Replacement Therapy. CDC. smoking/guide/explore-medications.html/. Accessed 1/19/2021. Referenced text is highlighted in the source document.

2. Medications can help you quit. Smoke Free. tips/how-to-quit/medications-can-help-you-quit/. Accessed 1/19/2021. Referenced text is highlighted in the source document.

3. Taking the First Steps to Quit Smoking & Ways to Help You Succeed. 4aeb-a7f6- f5f24de88bdd&Taking+the+First+Steps+to+Quit+Smoking+%26+Ways+to+Help+Yo u+Succeed. Accessed 1/25/2021. Referenced text is highlighted in the source document.

4. How To Handle Withdrawal Symptoms and Triggers When You Decide To Quit Smoking. National Cancer Institute. cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/withdrawal-fact-sheet/. Accessed 1/19/2021. Referenced text is highlighted in the source document.

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