Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

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Am Fam Physician. 2006;74(2):276

See related article on interventions for smoking.

What can I do to quit smoking?

Many people try to quit smoking four or five times before they are able to stop. The following tips can help you quit for good. Ask your doctor which are best for you.


Write down the reasons you want to quit. If you’ve tried to quit before, think about what worked and what didn’t work.


Set a quit date and stick to it. Once you quit, don’t smoke again. Get rid of your cigarettes, matches, lighters, and ashtrays. Wash all of your clothes, vacuum your home and car, and go to the dentist to get your teeth cleaned. Don’t let people smoke in your home or car. Sit in nonsmoking sections when you go out. Spend time in places where smoking is not allowed.


Think about the times you are most likely to want to smoke. Write down what you could do at those times instead of smoking.

Don’t drink alcohol.

Stay away from other smokers.

If you’re in a bad mood, think of things besides smoking that will make you feel better.

If you do have a cigarette, don’t be discouraged. Stop smoking again right away. Decide how you will handle situations like this in the future. Set a new quit date and start over.


Ask your family, friends, and coworkers for their support. Ask them not to smoke around you or leave cigarettes lying around.

Your doctor can tell you about counseling and self-help programs in your area.


Change your daily routine to help distract you from the urge to smoke. For example, take a walk, have lunch with a nonsmoker, exercise, or take a different route to work or school. Plan something fun to do every day as a reward for not smoking.


Some medicines can double your chances of quitting and can help cut down on your urge to smoke. Medicines that can help you quit smoking include bupropion, nicotine gums, inhalers, nose sprays, lozenges, and patches. Ask your doctor which medicine is best for you.

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