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Quitting smoking
Quitting smoking

Smoking hazards
Smoking hazards


Alternative Names:

Cigarettes - tips on how to quit; Smoking cessation


There are a lot of ways to quit smoking and many resources to help you. Family members, friends, and coworkers may be supportive or encouraging, but the desire and commitment to quit must be your own.

Most people who have been able to successfully quit smoking made at least one unsuccessful attempt in the past. Try not to view past attempts to quit as failures, but rather as learning experiences.

Feel ready to quit? First and foremost, set a quit date and quit completely on that day.

To prepare for that day:

  • Identify the times you are most likely to smoke. For example, do you tend to smoke when feeling stressed? When you are out at night with friends? While you are drinking coffee or alcohol? When you are bored? While you are driving?
  • Keep a diary to help you determine such risky times. Record each time you have a cigarette, including time of day and what you are doing.
  • Make a plan about what you will do instead of smoking at those times when you are most likely to smoke. For example, drink tea instead of coffee -- tea may not trigger the desire for a cigarette. Or, take a walk when feeling stressed. Remove ashtrays and cigarettes from the car. Place pretzels or hard candies there instead. Pretend-smoke with a straw.
  • Let all of your friends, family, and coworkers know of your plan to stop smoking and your quit date. Just being aware that they know can be a helpful reminder and motivator.
  • Before your quit date, start reducing your cigarette use, including decreasing the number and strength of the cigarettes. However, do NOT do this simply to make your diary "look good." Get rid of all of your cigarettes just before the quit date, and clean out anything that smells like smoke, such as clothes and furniture.

Other tips to help you quit smoking and stick to it:

  • Enroll in a smoking cessation program (hospitals, health departments, community centers, and work sites often offer programs).
  • Ask your health care provider for advice, including whether prescription medications are safe and appropriate for you.
  • Find out about nicotine patches, gum, and sprays.
  • Try hypnosis -- it works for some people.
  • Avoid smoke-filled settings and situations in which you are more likely to smoke.
  • Get more exercise. It helps relieve the urge to smoke.
  • Learn self-hypnosis from a qualified practitioner. This helps some people.

The American Cancer Society's web site -- -- is an excellent resource for smokers who are trying to quit, and the Great American Smokeout can help some smokers kick the habit.

Above all, don't get discouraged if you aren't able to quit smoking the first time. Nicotine addiction is a hard habit to break. Try something different next time.

See also:


Benowitz NL. Tobacco. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 30.

Review Date: 6/19/2008
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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