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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.

image of woman breaking a cigarette

Have you ever tried to quit tobacco, but you couldn’t quite make it stick? Maybe you weren’t aware of some of the helpful tools that can make quitting easier. Here are five techniques that can be combined to help you quit for good:

  1. Prepare. Set a quit date. Stay accountable to others. If possible, stay away from anyone or anything that tempts you to start up again. Drinking alcohol and being around smokers can lower your chances of success. Plan how you will deal with these challenges ahead of time, so you’ll be prepared if confronted with them.
  2. Line up support. Encouragement can come from many sources — family and friends, 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.
  3. Learn new behaviors. Some habits and routines will remind you of smoking. So change those habits. Instead of lighting up when you wake up, for instance, try taking a walk instead. Keep your hands busy and your mind off tobacco.
  4. Use nicotine replacement therapy and/or other tobacco cessation medicines. NRT helps weans you off nicotine, the addictive ingredient in tobacco. Some nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products are available over the counter. Over-the-counter NRT includes nicotine gum, patches and lozenges. Your doctor also may recommend prescription NRT such as an inhaler or nasal spray. There are also prescription medications that are different from NRT but can help reduce cravings so you can quit more easily. Talk to your doctor about what’s right for you, especially if you have any health conditions. 
  5. Be ready for slip-ups. Most relapses happen in the first three months after quitting. If you slip up, recommit and start anew on your tobacco-free journey. It can take several attempts to quit successfully, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

Don’t forget to celebrate the new, smoke-free you. Reward yourself with a movie or other non-tobacco treat at important milestones, like at the one-week or one-month mark after you quit. Quitting is hard — be proud of your accomplishment.

Need more help? 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

By Ginny Greene, Contributing Editor


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and tobacco use. Quit tips. Accessed June 26, 2018.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Busting NRT myths. Accessed June 26, 2018. Making a quit plan. Accessed June 26, 2018.

Updated July 9, 2018