Stop Smoking

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Well done on choosing to stop smoking. Deciding to quit is the first step toward success. It is not easy to stop smoking, but this handout has tips and resources to help you along the way. It also explains what happens to your body when you start to quit and what to do to make it easier.

How to Stop

1. Think about and list your reasons for quitting. For example:

  • heart benefits
  • save money
  • decrease coughing
  • improve air quality in your home
  • food tastes better
  • better sleep

2. Set a “stop” date and mark it on your calendar. Pick a day that has special meaning.

3. Talk to your health care provider about nicotine replacement therapy and smoking cessation medicine options.

4. Ask another smoker to quit with you. You can help each other.

5. If your friends have quit smoking, ask them for help and support.

6. Each day deposit money not spent on cigarettes in a clear bank, and watch your savings grow. Plan a reward for yourself.

7. Try to smoke less each day as you get closer to your quit date. Make the time between each cigarette longer and longer.

8. When your “quit day” comes, throw away your cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays. Ask your family and friends not to smoke around you.

9. Take one day at a time. Each morning tell yourself, “I will not smoke today.”

10. If alcohol is a trigger for smoking, avoid drinking alcohol.

11. Avoid being around other smokers. It can be very hard to resist smoking once you see other people smoking.

Stop Smoking Programs

  • Ohio Tobacco Quit Line
    • Free counseling for the uninsured, Medicaid recipients, pregnant women and members of the Ohio Tobacco Collaborative.
    • Nicotine replacement therapy may be available to those who qualify.
    • Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) to learn more and to enroll. Text to quit smoking. Text the word “QUIT” (7848) to “IQUIT” (47848) to receive tailored smoking cessation advice via text message.
  • Baby and Me Tobacco Free/Tobacco Free Families
    • This program is for pregnant women and caregivers of infants up to 6 months old.
    • Free smoking cessation sessions: Take part in 4 sessions that help pregnant women and new mothers find ways to quit.
    • Free diapers and groceries: Every month that you stay smoke free after your baby is born, you can get a voucher for free diapers and groceries, for up to 12 months.
    • To join either program call Columbus Public Health Department at 614-645-2135.
  • Smokefree Teen
  • American Cancer Society® (ACS)
  • The National Cancer Institute and other government agencies
    • Offers an online smoking cessation program fit to meet your needs, a downloadable app and chat line. Go to http: // to learn more about this website.

Nicotine Withdrawal

Nicotine withdrawal occurs when the nervous system reacts to the lack of nicotine in the blood. Nicotine is a very addictive drug. Some say it is more addictive than heroin. During withdrawal, you may:

  • have a strong urge to smoke
  • feel nervous
  • have a short temper
  • have trouble concentrating
  • think a lot about cigarettes and smoking
  • feel restless

The symptoms of withdrawal from nicotine are worst the first 3 to 7 days after you quit. After that, the physical symptoms fade and are gone by 2 weeks. During withdrawal, you may be moody and nervous. You may sweat and have cravings for sweets. You may also have trouble sleeping or concentrating.

  • Adjust your attitude. Decide from the start that smoking is not an option.
  • Understand smoking urges. In time, the urges to smoke are brief and the urge will fade.
  • Take several slow, deep breaths. Focus on the air moving easily in and out of your body.
  • Imagine yourself in a favorite place where you are content and comfortable. Continue breathing easily. While you relax, let the image be as vivid as possible. Afterwards, you will find the urge to smoke has been replaced by a sense of calm.

Cigarette Substitutes

  • Keep your hands and mouth busy.
  • Chew on toothpicks.
  • Chew on sugar free candy and mints.
  • Find hobbies or crafts to do.
  • Chew fruit and vegetable sticks.
  • Electronic cigarettes are not devices to quit smoking. Do not start vaping if you are trying to quit smoking.
  • Start exercising, like walking after a meal.
  • Drink lots of water and juices.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy and Smoking Cessation Medicines

Nicotine replacement therapy options include:

  • gum
  • nasal spray
  • skin patch
  • lozenges
  • inhalers (prescription required)

Smoking cessation medicines include:

  • bupropion (brand name, Zyban®)
  • varenicline (brand name, Chantix®)

You will need a prescription for both of these medicines.


Do not give up just because you have one cigarette! Having a “slip” can happen to anyone. Keep trying. The most successful quitters have tried to stop 8 or 9 times before they never smoke again. You can do it!

Stop Smoking (PDF)

HH-IV-161 ©2016, Revised 2021, Nationwide Children’s Hospital