Five Tips to Quit Smoking that Really Work

figure walking away from cigaretteEvery smoker knows that smoking poses serious health risks, but the prospect of quitting can be daunting. Nicotine withdrawals can last between three and 14 days, and some smokers find the depression and anxiety that may be associated with quitting smoking unbearable.

If you can ride out the first week or two of misery, though, it really does get better. Within a few weeks, you may be wondering why you ever craved a cigarette at all.

For smokers desperately craving just one more puff, these five tips can help quell the nicotine thirst.

Change Your Routine 

Nicotine is highly addictive, but it leaves your body within three days. By the fifth or sixth day, any cravings you feel are psychological, not physical. Changing your daily routine to remove common triggers for smoking can help you cope with these cravings. Try taking a day or two off of work, changing your working hours, or even going on a vacation. When you don’t have constant reminders that you used to smoke, you’re much less likely to miss puffing away your life.

Get Moving

Even the healthiest smokers suffer cardiovascular consequences from their decision to smoke. But within a few hours of quitting, your body begins to repair itself. This makes exercise easier, and exercising without coughing and becoming exhausted can be a powerful reminder that quitting has immediate health benefits. Even better, though, aerobic exercise can help silence even the worst cravings. Try doing a few jumping jacks every time you get a nicotine pang, and aim for a slightly longer workout every day or every other day.

Drink Some Water

The desire to put a cigarette in your mouth can be overwhelming, but try replacing that habit with a healthier one. Sipping cold water through a straw can combat nicotine cravings. Try taking a few deep breaths as you drink, and visualize yourself as a happy, healthy nonsmoker.

Accept the Cravings

When a craving strikes and you need to be doing something else, the energy you need to fight the craving can undermine your ability to work, concentrate, or maintain a decent mood. Rather than fighting cravings, try accepting them. When you feel a craving, tell yourself you’re going to take five minutes to fully experience the craving. Breathe through it while thinking about all the reasons you want to be a nonsmoker. Then get back to what you were doing before the craving came on.

Make Cigarettes Your Enemy

Most smokers conceive of quitting smoking as a time of epic deprivation. If you think of cigarettes as your friend, though, you’ll miss them more when they’re not around. Before you quit smoking, concentrate on every problem cigarettes have caused you—from smoker’s cough to the inability to enjoy a meal without lighting up. When you smoke a cigarette that you don’t enjoy or that gives you a headache, dwell on it. Then, when you give up smoking for good, think of your cravings as nasty reminders of what cigarettes used to do to you.

The cravings aren’t a longing for a friend who helped you through tough times; they’re the voice of harmful nicotine trying to convince you to do something that’s terrible for your body. When you miss cigarettes, think to yourself, “Cigarettes have harmed me so much that I have managed to convince myself that something that tastes bad and is terrible for me is good.” When cigarettes become your enemy, you have little reason to smoke them—even when you get a craving.

Are you working on quitting smoking? You’re not alone—more and more people are getting help with nicotine addiction. Smoking isn’t just a physical habit; it’s a mental health issue. Finding a therapist who works with smoking cessation may help. You can look for a therapist for yourself or a loved one in the directory.


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  2. Withdrawal symptoms and how to cope. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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  • Leave a Comment
  • Holly

    April 15th, 2014 at 4:20 AM

    Thankfully I have never smoked so I don’t know what trying to quit would be like. But I have had issues with overeating so I think that this could somewhat be along the same lines. I have never wanted to feel that feeling og being hunger, those pangs that strike you. I would think that this could be what nicotine withdrawals would be like. And the thing is that sometimes you have to accept those little pangs, and the big ones, to know that you are taking the right steps toward recovery. They are hard to deal with especially when you know that one little bite or smoke would take that all away but then you know that eventually it will come back. If you can get through those initial stages you will learn to come up with ways to help you manage that will not involve smoking or eating but you have to be willing to give it all a little time.

  • kaye

    April 15th, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    So these are all things that you can do, what about something like hypnotherapy? I have heard that this works well for many people

  • Marian

    April 16th, 2014 at 4:28 AM

    I thought that I had tried everything to stop smoking but then when I read this I realized that I was very wrong in that assumption.

    I have never tried anything that involves a real lifetsyle change. I guess like anyone else with a bad habit I have always looked for the easy ways out. Patches, gum, etc. I have never considered that this is going to be a big change for me and that I would actually have to make some big changes in my lifestyle to actually be a success.

    This is not going to be easy, breaking a habit you have had for 30plus years never will be. But I want to do it and this happened to be areal eye opener for me. I think that maybe this time I can successfully do it.

  • seth

    April 16th, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    I hated to have to do it but what helped me more than anything was changing the people that I hung out with. That sounds terrible but they were always smoking and having a good time and I wanted to hang out but I couldn’t do it without getting sucked into the smoking too! So I changed my friends and it turned my life around. I was finally able to kick that habit that I had wante to for years but never could. I didn’t need them if they were going to continue being that unsupportive of me.

  • Adriana

    April 17th, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    I know all of the health risks and still I am so weak that I heve not been able to kick the habit.
    I have tried to find anything and everything to take my mind off of the cigarettes but all I want to do is eat when I try to stop and then I gain weight and I can’t deal with that so I start smoking all over again.
    I like the way it makes me feel and the way I look when I smoke, maybe I won’t be saying that in 20 years but right now I guess I have not wrapped my mind around the fact that the best thing for me could be to quit.

  • leora

    April 18th, 2014 at 3:18 PM

    @kaye- I agree that quitting smoking is hard. I myself gave up a 16 year habit and it was not simple at all. Hypnotherapy is a great way to go for quitting smoking. What it does is puts ideas and images in your head of you making a choice not to smoke, and deciding that you are bigger than the urge to smoke. You’re not fighting with cigarettes, you’re fighting with your own urges. When you do hypnosis, you receive a suggestion that when you have the urge to smoke, you see the urge, accept it and rather than follow the urge, you do something that would actually help you to relax, such as taking deep breaths and finding some peace. When you picture yourself doing this in your mind and practice it with your thoughts, it becomes much easier in real life and quitting smoking doesn’t seem so difficult. Something you can do is a little self hypnosis, where you tell yourself over and over, “Although the urge to smoke is strong, I am choosing to be stronger than it!” Then, when you have the urge, you can remember that phrase. You can also practice this by closing your eyes and imagining yourself being in a situation where you are tempted to smoke, but instead choosing not to, even if it is difficult, accepting that not everything in life is easy and that is okay, just part of what makes you stronger. Good luck to you!!!!

  • scot h

    April 18th, 2014 at 4:31 PM

    It helps when you have reached the decision on your own that you are ready to quit. It can’t be about others wanting this for you; no, you have to have made up your mind that you are ready to do this for yourself.

  • John

    April 10th, 2015 at 10:08 PM

    what helped me most was a little device called an e-cigarette. i bought mine after trying my cousins pen. i learned about the health benefits it has and then i finally bought my own. (check name for link) thank you. it helps to know im not alone.

  • Thomas

    December 10th, 2015 at 2:19 AM

    These are good tips for a start when you try to quit smoking. There are other ways than these though so I can’t say that these are the best. I guess it still depends on the smoker’s outlook if he/she really wants to quit and the support he/she gets from the people around him/her for a way to be effective.

  • mony

    December 14th, 2016 at 6:25 AM

    I have read this full post about five-tips-to-quit-smoking-that-really-work.this is a very good and more effective
    Post, thanks for this best idea,

  • Nidhi

    July 5th, 2021 at 9:56 PM

    These reasons such as medication, be prepared for challenges, it’s never too late to quit etc if strongly followed can lead to quitting cigarettes permanently.

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