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How to Quit Smoking: 8 EASY Steps!

Updated on September 5, 2012

You CAN quit smoking!

Quitting smoking doesn't have to be difficult. In fact, I found it downright easy. You can too!

On this page I will talk about what I did to quit smoking, how each step helped me to get closer to my goal, and how you can find people who are willing to support you along the way.

If you have questions or need help, then you should use the comments on this page or contact me via e-mail (from my profile page). I'm happy to talk with you about how I quit, and to do what I can to make your journey easier.

If you are ready to quit, then this is your first step. Make it count! Use this page, its features, and bookmark it so that you can come back as you progress.

I'm here to help!

Take the time to read the photo credit page, would you? It contains a personal story of someone who quit smoking!

Tell me a little about you... - by taking the poll

Are you....?

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But Isn't it HARD to Quit?

No! It doesn't have to be hard to quit smoking!

Many people continue to smoke because they are afraid. They are afraid that it will be difficult to stop, they are afraid that they will become bored, or that they won't be able to relate to their friends. They are afraid because they have been told that it is "hard" to quit smoking.

I'm here to tell you that quitting smoking is by no means difficult. You can do it! What you need is a set of tools that you may previously have lacked. With this tool kit, you can quit -- for good. You can stop smoking and never look back!

I have made this lens very interactive for a reason. I want readers to interact with the polls, Plexos and duels. I want you to get involved. I want you to think about your addiction. I want you to engage with the lens. I want you to quit. I want you to quit smoking because although I don't know most of you, I like you, and I want to see you live a long, healthy, and happy life.

Step One: Know Why You Want to Quit

There are as many reasons to want to quit smoking as there are people who desire to remove cigarettes from their lives, and I am not going to repeat common examples of the ways that smoking affects your health and relationships. All of that information is widely available on the internet and the various sites that are designed specifically in order to help you quit smoking.

Only you know why you have reached this juncture in your life. Only you know the reasons that you have decided that you want to quit.

I've made several suggestions of reasons you might want to quit in the Plexo below. Please feel free to add some of your own!

Step Two: Identify the Nature of Your Addiction

Did you know that there are three different ways in which most smokers become addicted to nicotine? Not only is nicotine a powerfully physically addictive substance, it affects us psychologically and emotionally as well!

I found that in order to quit successfully, I had to understand the nature of my own addiction. For me, the physical addiction was minimal (if you smoke light cigarettes or hand-rolled cigarettes this might be the case for you, too. Also if you smoke very little). On the other hand, I struggled with the emotions surrounding quitting. It was going to be hard, I was going to fail, I couldn't do it. This is the emotional element to smoking. Other aspects of the emotional element include smoking to "reduce" stress.

The third type of addiction one sees with smokers is the habitual addiction. For some people, smoking is more a habit than it is an addiction. We smoke in certain social situations, or we smoke because we are talking on the phone. We smoke after meals and first thing in the morning because that is what we have always done.

Every person who is addicted to smoking has a combination of these factors involved in their addiction. To some degree, you are physically, emotionally/psychologically and habitually addicted. It isn't just any one thing, but a combination of the three.

Identifying the ways in which your addiction is emotional/psychological and the ways in which it is habitual will help you to be successful in your attempts to quit.

Get help with quitting smoking. It makes it so much easier!
Get help with quitting smoking. It makes it so much easier!

Step Three: Find Support

Any time you are working to change a habit, genuine support is critical!

Best case scenario, you find yourself a team of "allies," people who you can call on when things get tough. My "Quit Coach" (get one of these, too, if you're in the U.S.!) advised that I should choose people who had quit smoking themselves, so I chose my father and my best friend, who had, herself, recently quit smoking.

Former smokers are your best bet because they understand what you are experiencing. They won't tell you that it's too difficult (like some smokers will) and they won't tell you that it's incredibly easy (like many people who have never smoked). Instead, they know what you need, whether it's distraction or just an opportunity to talk about what you're experiencing. Your best support network will be people you know who have already quit or who are currently quitting themselves.

Photo Credit

Nicotine replacement therapy might help you quit.
Nicotine replacement therapy might help you quit.

Step Four: Choose a Nicotine Replacement

You do not need to use Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). However, when used correctly, this type of therapy can be very helpful in getting you through the first few days of your quit!

I used the nicotine gum for the first three days after I stopped smoking. I used it as directed and found that it was significantly easier to wean myself off of the gum than it was to "wean" off of cigarettes because it does not have the same psychological and emotional effects as cigarettes (though watch out for habits!).

If you are in the United States, you should be able to get a four-week supply of NRT for free by calling 1-800-QUIT NOW

Photo Credit

People have strong opinions about NRT. Share yours!

Some people feel that Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) makes quitting smoking more difficult, while others swear by it. Which side of the aisle are you on?

Is it a good idea to use NRT when quitting smoking?

Set a date to quit!
Set a date to quit!

Step Five: Set a Date

This is the hardest part for a lot of people -- setting the date that they are going to quit smoking. Quitting is much easier to think about when it is something that you're going to do in the future, but setting a date means that the date is eventually going to reach you.

It is best to set a date that is between two and four weeks in the future. This way you are able to continue to focus on your goal (quitting smoking) but still have enough time to begin to work on your habits and triggers in the meantime.

Circle the date on the calendar and be prepared to take following steps after you have decided when you are going to quit.

Your quit date is the day that you are going to throw out all of your cigarettes, your lighters and your ashtrays. It is the day that you are going to say goodbye to smoking -- for good!

Photo Credit

Let's do this!

I've just given you an opportunity to change your life. Are you going to take it?

Did you set a date to quit smoking (just now)?

See results

It's okay if you need something to help you quit!

Every quit is different. If you need something to help you to quit smoking (such as nicotine replacement therapy or an e-cigarette) go for it! You know your addiction best. The important thing is that you quit, not how you quit!

You're Ready to Begin!

If you've made it this far, you're ready to begin the actual process of quitting smoking! Congratulations!

I found that when I was quitting, I discovered that the process was far more complicated than I thought it was going to be. The few times I had tried to simply set cigarettes down and never pick them back up, I had been unsuccessful. I didn't understand myself or my process and therefore I became easily frustrated. I believed that addiction was purely physical and I had attempted to quit cold turkey without any support.

But I have the power of knowledge on my side now, and I want to share that knowledge with you. While quitting is anything but a "simple" process, it can be an easy process. The following steps should help you to get ready for your quit date.

You can do this!

Quitting smoking doesn't have to be hard! Knowing your triggers will definitely help!
Quitting smoking doesn't have to be hard! Knowing your triggers will definitely help!

Step Six: Identify your Triggers

Everybody has a unique set of "triggers" that cause them to want to smoke. Because part of quitting is establishing new habits, it is very, very important that you identify the reasons why you smoke, or the things that make you want to light up.

I've made some suggestions in the plexo below (feel free to vote for yours!). Later on I will talk some about how to change the habits you associate with these triggers.

I advise taking the time to write down the things that make you want to smoke, as well as writing down which cigarettes are habitual for you. Do you always have a last cigarette before bed? One after every meal? Write down the cigarettes that are habitual for you. Writing them down will help to give you power over them. Try it!

Photo Credit

Step Seven: Practice New Habits

This is where things begin to really get difficult. If you've been following the steps here, you've already identified your triggers and your habits. You know what things make you smoke. But you probably don't know how what you're going to do when you become stressed, or right after you eat a meal.

I'm going to share with you the things I did to get through the things that triggered me. If anyone ads to the Plexo above, I will edit this module with suggestions for other triggers!

  • Social Situations: I avoided social situations where there were other people who were smoking. This has gotten easier since most states are banning smoking in restaurants and bars.

    If you can't avoid others who smoke, do let them know that you are quitting smoking. Ask them not to offer you cigarettes. Practice saying "no" if someone does offer you a cigarette.

  • Smoking While Talking on the Telephone: This one is very, very difficult and was one of my worst triggers! I didn't even know it until I started trying to not smoke while on the telephone!

    My "Quit Coach" advised me to go into a room of the house that was "smoke-free" while I was on the telephone. I found this just required patience and practice in advance of my quit date!

  • Smoking when Stressed: First of all, recognize that smoking doesn't reduce stress -- nicotine in fact creates the stress of withdrawal. Secondly, you are going to need to find a new way to handle stress. This can be difficult for some people.

    You might want to start by taking a few deep breaths. If you have a pet, spending time with pets can be very helpful to helping you to reduce your stress levels. Counting slowly can also help. The craving will pass in about a minute.

  • Smoking when bored: I don't mean to sound flippant, but get a hobby. Often, when people smoke due to boredom it is because they have nothing else to fill their time. If you're bored, write a new lens, start a new project, go for a walk. Distract yourself and the craving will disappear.
  • Smoking After Meals: I was so worried about this one at first, but it turns out that it was the easiest habit to change for me! There are so many constructive things to do after a meal!

    If you are at home, go brush your teeth. Not only is it good to brush your teeth after every meal, but it will help to reduce nicotine staining on your teeth. You can also go and wash the dishes (another good habit to form). If you are out, simply wait. Sit at the table and have a conversation with your companion(s). Most restaurants in the U.S. have banned smoking already, taking the pressure off you. It's more effort to go outside than it is to stay put!

  • Smoking while Driving: This one is hard, but you're going to just have to practice not smoking when you're in the car. The only replacement I've seen is doing some steering wheel drumming, but I can't say that helped me at all.

    Buy some car air fresheners and forbid others from smoking in your car. You'll smell better and feel better. And you'll have formed a new habit!

  • First-Morning Cigarette: This sounds harder than it is.

    When you first wake up in the morning, your body is going through nicotine withdrawal. You've been without a cigarette for several hours and your mind and body are craving the nicotine. Most smokers automatically light up. Don't.

    Take this in stages. The first day, go fifteen minutes before having your cigarette. The second day, try for half an hour. The week after that, try an hour. If you can get to one hour you can give up that first morning cigarette (and can therefore quit).

  • Late-Night Cigarette: This used to be my "insurance policy" that I wouldn't feel deprived during the night. This one works the same as the first-morning cigarette.
  • Smoking as a Reward: Find other ways to reward yourself for a job well done or for other accomplishments. Take a long walk or call an old friend.

It's time to quit!
It's time to quit!

Step Eight: Quit!

You made it!

One last step: DO IT!

The night before your quit date, throw out your cigarettes (destroy them if you must), lighters and ashtrays. I also recommend airing the house out so that it doesn't smell like cigarettes. Arm yourself with contact information for your allies and be prepared to call a quit coach (1-800-QUIT NOW). Provide yourself with means of distraction. Change your routine. Do something different. Plan to celebrate your new life as a non-smoker. Get ready to reward yourself for a job well done!

You made it! Congratulations!

Photo Credit

You CAN Quit Smoking!

Quitting smoking is easier than you might think it will be, but there are still going to be times when it is a struggle. Changing any habit takes time, and it takes a feat of will. Be prepared to take things one single step at a time, a single day at a time. If you have a slip and you smoke, don't panic! Just put the cigarette out and start over again.

It takes three weeks on average to form a habit. That is 21 consecutive days. It takes less than twenty-four hours for your system to be free from nicotine, and the cravings should begin to disappear within three days. Every hour to conquer your cravings is one hour closer to reaching the goal of a new habit.

vYou can do this. Connect with other people who have quit. Be prepared to reward yourself for quitting. And accept the natural rewards as well, including breathing better, food that tastes better, and knowing that you look, feel, and smell your best!

Congratulations on quitting (or deciding to quit!). Welcome to the ex-smoker's club!

Let's get Personal

This is me. I've been an ex-smoker for nearly nine months now and I am proud to say that I haven't looked back. But I also want to be honest with you about a few things.

  1. I gained weight. While I didn't replace cigarettes with food, I did gain weight. The reason being that food tastes so much better when you're a non-smoker! It's amazing how different things were to me. I found myself exploring and experimenting more with food.

    The weight gain was nominal -- only about ten pounds. But I did gain weight.

  2. I have been tempted. There have been moments since I quit when I have wanted a cigarette. Even now I will sometimes see someone who is smoking and want to join them for social or psychological reasons. It isn't always easy, but I don't ever want to have to quit again (it was a very emotional time for me even if I did find the withdrawal nonexistent).
  3. The financial savings don't add up like I'd like. I smoked hand-rolled cigarettes (read: cheap) and therefore the savings wasn't significant as a reward for me.
  4. Quitting smoking was the most worthwhile thing I have ever done. Nothing I have committed myself to doing has been worth more to me than the improved health and relationships of quitting smoking. If I had to do it all over again, I would, in an instant!

I also wanted to tell you that as a few of my friends on Tagfoot know, I have never considered myself an "ex-smoker." I identified too much as a smoker to let that go. However, in preparing this lens I found myself with tears in my eyes -- as I realized -- I AM AN EX! GO ME!

Are you an Ex, Too?

Have you quit smoking?

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This Lens is Dedicated to Joyce Rizzuti

Joyce Rizzuti was my mother in law. For many years she smoked four packs of cigarettes a day until the time when her son (my husband) developed asthma. The doctors said that it was because of her smoking.

People said she wouldn't be able to do it. She was too hard-core, too much of a smoker. Four packs a day, every day for years? No way! But Joyce showed them all. She set a date, dedicated herself, and she quit smoking. Leo's asthma disappeared and she was able to move on with her life. She quit cold turkey.

Lung cancer, however, is a scary disease. It can creep up on you when you least expect it. In March of 2009, Joyce went to the hospital with some routine complaints. She never went home. The carcinoma crept up on her so quickly that there were only weeks between the point of diagnosis and the day that she died.

Leo and I went to say our goodbyes, but we weren't in time. The family chose not to notify us of their choice to remove her from life support -- a niece snitched. We were only a few hours too late to say goodbye.

In the day that followed (before we were asked to leave and not attend the funeral -- very long story that has nothing to do with Joyce but with her daughters!), I was the ONLY ex-smoker present. Her children and siblings continued to smoke in spite of persistent health problems and the fact that their mother had died of lung cancer.

This lens is dedicated to somebody who did it -- and someone who still paid the price for her decisions. I didn't give her enough credit during her life, but with her death I realize that in my way, I loved her.

It might be hard for your family to understand, but I miss you, Joyce Rizzuti. You were a good woman. I wish I could have seen it when you were alive. 20% of the royalties from this lens are going to a Cancer Charity in your honor. We remember you, Mom.

What's your story? - Are you an "ex"? Getting ready to quit? Share your story!

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Awesome lens! I have read the Allen Carr book and did quit once using it. (the only previous time I did) But I have bookmarked this page, I will condense it down into bullet points for myself, and I will be a happy ex-smoker soon enough. I'm sure of it. Thank you for putting this all up. It makes a lot of sense and is easy to follow. Great job

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You did a fantastic job on this lens Rebecca. I was a long time big smoker who quit on sheer willpower also (for health reasons). It can be done, we just have to want it bad enough. Thanks for dropping by my lens.

      ~ Blessed by an Ex-Smoker Squidoo Angel ~

    • lakern26 lm profile image

      lakern26 lm 

      8 years ago

      Fortunately, I've never been a smoker and that's mainly because my father was. I grew up watching the effect that smoking had on him and breathing in second-hand smoke myself and knew that I wanted no part of it. I commend you on quitting, though. I think it takes a great deal of courage and resolve to overcome such an addiction. It's wonderful that you've created this lens as a way to help others in the same situation. I think your words are very inspiring and I can see how these tips could also be used to change other bad habits as well. Well done on an excellent lens!

    • AlisonMeacham profile image


      8 years ago

      I consider myself really fortunate that I never started. I have friends who have tried so many times to quit.

    • profile image

      Leanne Chesser 

      8 years ago

      This is a great lens with some excellent tips on how to quit smoking. I haven't smoked in almost 15 years. I quit each time I was pregnant (4 times) but started up again after I was done nursing . . . except for the last time. Congratulations on your year anniversary in November! Blessed by an angel.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Congrats on quitting smoking! I've tried many times but it never takes. I gain weight and have more trouble breathing from the extra weight, my knees hurt badly from the extra weight, and honestly I feel worse than when I smoke. The biggest thing for me is the nervousness and resulting intestinal problems that come with not gets really pretty bad for me.

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 

      9 years ago

      I am not, nor ever been a smoker. but I am a nurse caring for smokers. I hate what it does to their bodies, their health and their minds. Younger people are simply immune to the idea that one day they will be 50, 60, 70, Still smoking and suffering a myriad of horrible diseases. A horrible image that will never leave my mind, Is a 56 year old cancer of the tongue, mouth, nose and throat secondary to smoking. She had disfiguring surgery, had to have tubes to breath and eat. Had a permanent tracheostomy and she said to me one day "turn off the oxygen, I need a cigarrette" She stuck that cigarrette into the stoma of her throat tracheostomy hole and dragged on that cigarrette and blew smoke back out through the hole. It was the most obscene thing I have ever seen in my life. Please folks. You can do this. Stop smoking, save your lives...Please don't make some nurse care for your misery some day in a decade or three.


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