Quitting smoking isn’t easy. It might take several tries before you quit for good. But you can do it—and the benefits for your health will be huge. No matter how long you’ve been smoking, it’s never too late to quit.
Commit to taking this key step for your heart health and get the help you need to stay smokefree.
How can I get started?
Getting ready to quit smoking can feel overwhelming. Here are some things you can do to set yourself up for success.
Pick your quit date
Pick a date in the next 2 weeks and mark it on your calendar. Try to choose a less busy day in your schedule. Use the time before your quit date to get ready. You can plan to quit all at once or slowly reduce how much you smoke until you stop completely on your quit date.
Make it official. Tell friends and family when you plan to quit so they can support you. Or share that you’re quitting smoking on social media to hold yourself accountable.
What’s your “why”?
Write down your reasons for quitting smoking. Are you quitting to lower your risk of heart attack and stroke? To feel better day-to-day? To protect your loved ones from secondhand smoke? Writing your “why” and keeping it in a place where you can see it every day can help you stay motivated.
Get the support you need
People who get counseling to stop smoking are more likely to quit for good, so don’t go it alone. Reach out for help!
There are special counselors who are trained to support people who want to quit. They can help you make a quit plan, stay on track, and cope with triggers and slips along the way. You can also talk with a doctor or mental health professional to find support.
Find free resources to help you quit:
- Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) to get expert phone counseling support.
- Check out the LiveHelp chat service to talk online with a trained counselor.
- Text QUITNOW (English) or DÉJELO YA (Spanish) to 333888 for text message support to help you stay motivated.
- Use the quitSTART smartphone app to track your progress and get helpful tips.
- Join a Smokefree social media community to share your experiences and connect with other people who are trying to quit.
Consider using a quit-smoking medicine
The Food and Drug Administration has approved seven medicines to help adults quit smoking. These medicines can double your chances of quitting successfully, and there are lots of different options to try.
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is one type of quit-smoking medicine. You can buy three types of NRT—gum, lozenges, and patches—online or over the counter at your local drugstore.
Doctors can also prescribe pills to help you quit smoking. You may need to start taking these pills a week or two before your quit date. Talk with a doctor or pharmacist about which medicine options are best for you.
Boost your chance of success even more
Research shows that combining medicines with counseling can than using either alone. Give yourself the best chance possible medicines to help you quit and start counseling by phone, text, or in person.
Trash your triggers
On your quit date, get rid of all your cigarettes and everything else that reminds you of smoking. Remove ashtrays, lighters, and matches from your home and car.
Try putting NRT gum or lozenges in your glove compartment, coat pockets, and any other places you used to keep cigarettes or lighters.
Stick with it
Quitting can be a difficult journey — but you can be successful. Try these tips to stay on track.
Manage withdrawal symptoms
Many people have withdrawal symptoms when they quit smoking. The good news is these symptoms usually get better a few weeks after quitting and there are healthy ways to manage symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Feeling irritated or jumpy
- Having trouble sleeping or concentrating
- Being hungrier or eating more than usual
- Feeling anxious or depressed
If you notice symptoms, try these steps to feel better:
- Move more. Physical activity can help you sleep and boost your mood. If you’re feeling jittery, try taking a walk around the block or doing a few jumping jacks.
- Eat healthy. If you’re feeling hungrier than usual, choose healthy snacks like fresh fruits and veggies or unsalted nuts. Eating healthy foods can help you feel more satisfied.
- Stress less. Find healthy ways to deal with stress, anxiety, and irritation. Deep breathing exercises can help you feel calmer.
If you have anxiety or depression that doesn’t get better in a couple weeks, ask your doctor for help.
Cope with cravings
Cravings are tough, but they fade over time — so try to think about the bigger picture. Keep track of things that trigger your cravings and find healthy ways to cope.
When you feel a craving coming on, try these tips to stop yourself from smoking:
- Distract yourself. The minute you feel a craving, start doing something else. Switch tasks at work or try a hands-on chore like gardening or folding laundry.
- Get support. Keep the quitline number or online chat link handy in your phone. Or text or call a friend when you think you’re about to slip.
- Get moving. Physical activity can really help get your mind off smoking. When cravings hit, get up and move. You can walk, jog, or dance around the house. Just keep moving until the craving passes.
- Breathe through it. Take slow, deep breaths until you feel more in control.
- Go somewhere you can’t smoke. Take the willpower out of the mix and go to a public place, like a store or restaurant, where you don’t have the option to smoke.
Every day you don’t smoke is a huge success! Mark each milestone to stay motivated:
- Set reminders on your phone or calendar to congratulate yourself when you reach 1 day, 1 week, or 1 month smokefree
- Consider posting on social media or telling friends and family when you hit key dates
- Think about your heart, lungs, and whole body getting healthier with each day you stay smokefree
Quitting starts to heal your heart right away:
- In minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure decrease.
- In 1 to 2 years, your risk for heart attack drops sharply.
- In 3 to 6 years, your risk for heart disease drops to half that of someone who still smokes.
Don’t sweat a slip-up
If you slip and have a cigarette, that doesn’t mean you failed. Just get right back to not smoking and aim to quit for good. Reach out to your counselor, friends, or family for support.
And if you don’t stay smokefree this time, don’t let it get you down. It’s very common to need several tries. The key is to learn from each attempt and always try again.
Think about how great you felt when you weren’t smoking. Then take note of what made you slip up. Did you go through a stressful time at work or at home? Were you around someone else who was smoking? Figuring out what triggered your slip can help you avoid it in the future.
Remember that quitting is possible
No matter how many tries it takes, you can quit smoking. More than 3 out of every 5 adults who ever smoked have quit. That’s over 50 million people and counting — and you can be one of them.