How to Quit

For the best results, work with your doctor.

Set a Quit Date

  • About a few weeks away
  • This gives you a goal

Just Before Quitting

  • Practice going without cigarettes.
  • Don't think of never smoking again. Think of quitting in terms of one day at a time.
  • Tell yourself you won't smoke today, and then don't.
  • Clean your clothes to rid them of the cigarette smell, which can linger a long time.

Cut Down the Number of Cigarettes You Smoke

  • Smoke only half of each cigarette.
  • Each day, postpone the lighting of your first cigarette by one hour.
  • Decide you'll only smoke during odd or even hours of the day.
  • Decide beforehand how many cigarettes you'll smoke during the day. For each additional cigarette, give a dollar to your favorite charity.
  • Change your eating habits to help you cut down. For example, drink milk, which many people consider incompatible with smoking.
  • Reach for a glass of juice instead of a cigarette for a "pick-me-up."
  • Remember: Cutting down can help you quit, but it's not a substitute for quitting.

Switch Brands

  • Switch to a brand you find distasteful.
  • Change to a brand that is low in tar and nicotine a couple of weeks before your target date. This will help change your smoking behavior. However, do not smoke more cigarettes, inhale them more often or more deeply, or place your fingertips over the holes in the filters. These actions will increase your nicotine intake, and the idea is to get your body used to functioning without nicotine.

Don't Smoke "Automatically"

  • Smoke only those cigarettes you really want. Catch yourself before you light up a cigarette out of pure habit.
  • Don't empty your ashtrays. This will remind you of how many cigarettes you've smoked each day, and the sight and the smell of stale cigarettes butts will be very unpleasant.
  • Make yourself aware of each cigarette by using the opposite hand or putting cigarettes in an unfamiliar location or a different pocket to break the automatic reach.
  • If you light up many times during the day without even thinking about it, try to look in a mirror each time you put a match to your cigarette. You may decide you don't need it.

Make Smoking Inconvenient

  • Stop buying cigarettes by the carton. Wait until one pack is empty before you buy another.
  • Stop carrying cigarettes with you at home or at work. Make them difficult to get to.

Make Smoking Unpleasant

  • Smoke only under circumstances that aren't especially pleasurable for you. If you like to smoke with others, smoke alone. Turn your chair to an empty corner and focus only on the cigarette you are smoking and all its many negative effects.
  • Collect all your cigarette butts in one large glass container as a visual reminder of the filth made by smoking.

The Night Before

  • Throw out ALL your cigarettes!
  • Get rid of lighters, matches, and ashtrays.
  • If you plan to use medicine to help you quit, make sure you know how to use them.
  • Stock up on sugar-free gum, mints, and healthy snacks like carrots and celery.

On the Day You Quit

  • Visit the dentist and have your teeth cleaned to get rid of tobacco stains.
  • Make a list of things you'd like to buy for yourself or someone else. Estimate the cost in terms of packs of cigarettes, and put the money aside to buy these presents.
  • Keep very busy on the big day. Go to the movies, exercise, take long walks, or go bike riding.
  • Remind your family and friends that this is your quit date, and ask them to help you over the rough spots of the first couple of days and weeks.
  • Buy yourself a treat or do something special to celebrate.

The First Few Days

  • Giving up cigarettes is hardest the first week.
  • After the first few days it gets easier to breathe.
  • Your sense of taste and smell returns.
  • Develop a clean, fresh, nonsmoking environment around yourself-at work and at home. Buy yourself flowers-you may be surprised how much you can enjoy their scent now.
  • The first few days after you quit, spend as much free time as possible in places where smoking isn't allowed, such as libraries, museums, theaters, department stores, and churches.
  • Drink large quantities of water and fruit juice (but avoid sodas that contain caffeine).
  • Try to avoid alcohol, coffee, and other beverages that you associate with cigarette smoking.
  • Strike up conversation instead of a match for a cigarette.
  • If you miss the sensation of having a cigarette in your hand, play with something else-a pencil, a paper clip, a marble.
  • If you miss having something in your mouth, try toothpicks or a fake cigarette.
  • Get support. There are support groups available via phone and the internet.

Sourced from: National Cancer Institute, "Clearing the Air: How to Quit Smoking" 1993
Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living, "Guide to Quit Smoking"
Mary Calvagna, MS, "Tips to Help You Stop Smoking" 2008

Explore Clinical Trials

Over 1,000 clinical trials
being conducted at Ochsner.

Donate to Ochsner

We change and save lives every day.
Your support makes it possible.

Download the
MyOchsner Mobile App

With the Mobile App you can review test results, medications, immunization history, pay your bill, stay in touch with your provider and more.

Access Care 24/7

Ochsner Anywhere Care Virtual Vists

Get Care Now

Healthy living tips,
delivered to your inbox