How to Quit Smoking

Young women's version of this guide

man breaking the cigarette with hands

There are many benefits to kicking the smoking habit. Stopping will lower risk for many health problems which include different types of cancer, heart and breathing problems. However, in order to be successful at quitting, you’ll need to figure out the reason why YOU should quit. For example, you would feel better now and prevent serious health problems when you’re an adult, you would be a good role model for your younger siblings, you would have more energy and be a better athlete, and you would save a lot of money.

Okay, I’ve decided to quit… What can I do so I will succeed this time?

That’s great! This is a very positive step. There are some things you can do before you stop smoking to help increase your chances of success:

  • If you’ve tried to quit before, think about why it didn’t work. What can you do this time to help yourself succeed?
  • Tell your family and friends that you are quitting. Ask them to not tease you about it, because you are serious. Ask them to support you by not smoking around you and not offering you cigarettes.
  • Throw out all your cigarettes, lighters, and ashtrays. If you’re going to be a non-smoker, you won’t need these things again.
  • Wash all your clothes and send coats to the dry cleaners. This will help get rid of the smell of cigarette smoke.
  • If you smoked frequently in the car, clean it out as well.
  • Many daily smokers become used to holding a cigarette. Stock up on lollipops, sugar-free gum, carrots, and celery sticks to help with the frequent motion.
  • Talk to your health care provider about nicotine replacement methods such as the nicotine patch, gum, and lozenges, they can be purchased over the counter at your local pharmacy. However, if you are a teen under the age of 18 years old and live in the United States, you will need a prescription from your doctor. Although these products work, it’s important to use them correctly. Make sure your health care provider or pharmacist explains how to use them.  Join a support group at your school, in your community, or online.

What can I do so I won’t smoke again?

The hardest part about quitting is breaking the habits that go along with it. For example, if you are used to smoking with your friends when you are hanging out together, it will be hard to hang around with them and not smoke. The best way to keep from smoking is to not put yourself in situations with people who smoke and to stay away from places where you are used to smoking.

  • Decide why you want to quit and write down the reason- “to feel better”, “run faster”, etc. This will help motivate you and remind you why you quit in the first place.
  • Avoid places and situations where you usually smoke.
  • Spend less time with people who smoke.
  • Go to non-smoking places with your friends, such as the mall or the movies.
  • Don’t drink alcohol. Alcohol will likely lower your willpower and increase your chances of having a cigarette.
  • If your family/friends smoke, ask them to not smoke around you.
  • Give yourself a reward! Use the money you would typically spend on cigarettes to buy yourself something nice.
  • Plan activities during the first couple of weeks to take your mind off smoking. It will be easier to quit if you keep yourself busy.

How will I feel when I’m quitting?

If you’re a regular smoker, your body has gotten used to having nicotine and other chemicals around all the time. You will probably feel some symptoms of withdrawal when you stop smoking. This means that you might have a headache, dry mouth, increased appetite, queasy feeling, and uncomfortable or nervous or you may just crave cigarettes.

Will I gain weight if I quit smoking?

Many people worry that they will gain weight once they quit smoking. In reality, many do gain a little but not enough to change how they look. People don’t gain weight because they stop smoking. They gain weight because they start eating more. Often, people confuse the feeling of craving nicotine with hunger and then eat to try to make this uncomfortable feeling go away. Smokers are also used to having something in their hands and in their mouth, so they may pick up food to replace holding a cigarette.

To keep from gaining weight, try these things:

  • Drink sips of water instead of eating when you feel uncomfortable.
  • Munch on carrots, celery, and other healthy foods instead of smoking.
  • Munch on carrots, celery, and other healthy foods instead of smoking. This will also help take your mind off smoking and make you healthier.
  • Keep busy. You’ll be less likely to eat when you’re not really hungry if you’re doing other things.

When will the nicotine craving go away?

Within weeks, the nicotine craving will go away and you’ll feel more like yourself. In the beginning you also might feel frustrated, moody, or depressed. It may seem like you are all alone in your suffering and that no one understands what you are going through. Although this will be hard, these feelings will go away with time. After a couple weeks, you will be over the hardest part of quitting – the physical addiction, when your body feels like it needs nicotine. However, it may still be hard to resist having a cigarette. The habit of having a cigarette in your hand and smoking while you do certain activities, like talking on the phone or hanging out with friends, can be difficult to break.

After I quit can I have a cigarette once in a while?

Many people get through the toughest part of quitting and mistakenly think that they can start smoking a cigarette once in a while again. Very soon, their old habits come back and they find themselves addicted once again. Quitting is hard for most people, so once you quit, make a commitment to yourself that you won’t light up again.

Can I use an E-cigarette to help me quit?

No. It is important to know that the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (government organization that tests safety of cigarettes, medicine, and food) has not studied the safety or efficiency of e-cigarettes, therefore e-cigarettes are NOT safer than regular cigarettes and should not be used to quit smoking.

Oops! I had a cigarette. I guess quitting is too hard for me.

If you give in and have a cigarette while you are trying to quit, don’t worry. This doesn’t mean you can’t quit. Quitting is a very hard thing to do, and it is not surprising that you might break down and have a cigarette at some point. The important thing is not to use this as a reason to become a regular smoker again. Think of it as a mistake and tell yourself that you won’t let it happen again. You can do it!

What happens if I really start smoking again?

If you try to quit and it doesn’t work, don’t give up. Quitting is very hard. Think about why quitting didn’t work for you. Only YOU know why you like to smoke, and only YOU can figure out what it will take for you to quit. Start thinking about what you can do to help yourself quit for good. Try quitting again in a few weeks and use what you learned from your first experience to make it work the second time.

Remember, millions of people have quit smoking, and you can too! You just have to believe you can quit. Quitting will help you to look and feel your best and keep you healthy! Good luck!

Additional Resources
If you’re concerned about smoking, here’s a tip on how to bring it up with your health care provider: “I’m trying to quit cigarettes, do you have any advice?”