Quit smoking: Strategies to help you quit

Being prepared can help you quit smoking and other tobacco use. Use these proven strategies to help end your dependence on tobacco.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You know that when you quit smoking, it's one of the best things you can do for your health. So now you want to get serious and quit smoking. But you also know that quitting smoking can be challenging and that it takes most smokers several tries before they succeed.

So how do you quit smoking, hopefully for good? These tried-and-true strategies can help you achieve your goal to quit smoking. Try one or two, or try them all until you find what works for you.

Put it on paper

Consider what you don't like about smoking, and why you want to quit smoking. Are you worried about health consequences, such as lung cancer and heart disease? Do you want to feel better? Set a good example for your kids? Rid yourself of that lingering smoke smell on your hair, skin and clothes? Write it all down and carry the list with you. Each time you pick up a cigarette or have the urge to do so, read your list and remind yourself why you want to quit smoking.

Enlist support

Get others on your side. Tell your family, friends and co-workers that you want to quit smoking. You may even ask them to remind you why it's important to quit smoking if they see you pick up a cigarette. Also, ask your friends or anyone in your household who smokes to quit smoking, too. And consider joining a support group — either in person or online — for people who've quit smoking or want to.

See a specialist

Contact a tobacco treatment specialist through your doctor, a local treatment program or a telephone-based program. Toll-free tobacco quit lines are available in every state in the United States and many countries throughout the world. One big benefit of telephone quit lines is that you can participate from your own home — you don't need transportation. The more counseling you receive when you want to quit smoking, the more likely you'll remain tobacco-free. Ask your doctor or hospital for information, or check your local phone book.

Take it slow

Most people have the best success with quitting smoking by setting a quit-smoking date and then abruptly stopping on that date. If you've tried that method a few times and it hasn't worked for you, you might want to start the quit-smoking process by gradually cutting back on your smoking. Ways that you can cut back gradually include delaying your first cigarette of the day, smoking only half of each cigarette, buying only one pack of cigarettes at a time, and trading one smoking break a day for physical activity. Build on each success until you've quit smoking entirely.

May 16, 2014 See more In-depth